Wellington, November 2, 2017
The Commerce Commission today filed proceedings in the High Court at Auckland seeking an injunction to prevent Platinum Equity LLC acquiring OfficeMax Holdings Limited.
The Commission considers that the acquisition would likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the supply of stationery to large corporate and government customers.
The Commission has applied to consolidate its proceedings with those initiated by Complete Office Supplies. A date for the hearing has yet to be set but is unlikely to be this year.
Background the Case
In 2015, the Commission approved a merger clearance application which would have combined the New Zealand businesses of Staples (now owned by Platinum and called Winc NZ Limited) and OfficeMax, as part of a wider global merger.
However, the acquisition did not take place within the statutory 12-month timeframe and the clearance lapsed.
Platinum did not apply for clearance for its 2017 proposed acquisition of OfficeMax.
The Prohibition Clause
Section 47 of the Commerce Act prohibits acquisitions that are likely to substantially lessen competition.
The Commission administers a voluntary regime that allows firms to apply for clearance if they consider their planned acquisition could raise competition issues.
If firms do not apply for clearance, the Commission can initiate an investigation into a proposed or completed merger under Section 47.
If a person breaches Section 47 they may be subject to a penalty of up to $500,000 for an individual or $5 million for a firm.