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ATLANTA, March 17 An Office Depot Inc ODP.N
shareholder said on Monday it planned to nominate former
executives of the company and rival Staples Inc (SPLS.O) to
serve on the board in place of two Office Depot candidates,
including the company's chief executive.
Woodbridge Group, which includes Woodbridge Equity Fund and
real estate developer Levitt Corp LEV.N, intends to nominate
Mark Begelman, former president of Office Depot, and Martin
Hanaka, the former president of Staples, for election to the
board at Office Depot's annual meeting on April 23.
In a statement, Woodbridge Group said Office Depot "needs
new representation" on the board to revitalize the retailer,
which it added had lost vision and its competitive position.
Office Depot results have suffered as slowing job growth,
the U.S. housing crisis and credit market jitters led small
businesses to cut spending.
The retailer reported a bigger-than-expected drop in fourth
quarter profit late last month and CEO Steve Odland said on a
conference call it would be difficult to rejuvenate growth
unless markets improve.
What is more, a regulatory filing disclosed in February
that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was
investigating Office Depot for allegedly making a series of
phone calls to analysts last June, warning them that weak
economic conditions were hurting sales. Office Depot also
announced last month that its chief financial officer
Woodbridge Group said it was nominating Begelman, 60, and
Hanaka, 58, to serve on Office Depot's board in place of
company director candidates David Fuente and Odland.
Woodbridge said its nominees were committed to "taking
immediate and aggressive action to turn around Office Depot's
business and redefine its position in the marketplace."
Office Depot shares were down 8 cents at $10.96 in
afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares
have fallen 68 percent in the past year.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Andre Grenon)