NEW YORK – A large investor in OfficeMax Inc. (OMX) Friday said the No. 3 U.S. office products chain should consider breaking itself up and sell one or more business lines to better reflect underlying value in the stock.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (search), K Capital Partners (search), which owns 6.2 percent of OfficeMax, said the retailer's stock was undervalued and breaking up the company would maximize its value.
K Capital, a Boston-based investment fund that has pushed for changes at many European companies in which it has owned stakes, said in the filing it has advised the board of the office products retailer to break up the company and sell one or more of its components.
It said it has engaged the Blackstone Group as a financial adviser to explore strategic alternatives for OfficeMax and "may take other actions to insure that strategic alternatives are considered" by the retailer.
OfficeMax officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Other companies in which K Capital Partners has owned stakes include Dutch retailer Royal Vendex KBB, where it sought changes to increase value along with other investors such as Guy Wyser-Pratt and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (search).
It was also active in pushing for change at Germany's ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, where it sued another shareholder, and fought for higher returns from Norwegian bank Gjensidige NOR.
Last month OfficeMax, which faces stiff competition led by fast-expanding top rival Staples Inc., ousted its chief executive, Christopher Milliken, amid a billing scandal that led to the firing of six employees.
A spokesman for Dutch office goods supplier Buhrmann said a sale of all or part of competitor OfficeMax would draw some attention. "You're more or less obliged to take a look at it.... (But) it's not a logical move for Buhrmann," he said.
OfficeMax, based in Itasca, Illinois, was formed in December 2003 when paper and forest products company Boise Cascade Corp. acquired officer products retailer OfficeMax. Boise Cascade changed its name to OfficeMax after selling its paper, forest products and timberlands assets
Shares of OfficeMax — with over $8 billion in sales — rose 16 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $34.12 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange (search). The share were below a 52-week high of $38.01 hit in June