By Nadia Damouni and Dhanya Skariachan
NEW YORK Feb 18 Neuberger Berman LLC, one of
OfficeMax Inc's top shareholders, said it would support
a merger with Office Depot Inc depending on terms of the
deal, according to a portfolio manager at the investment firm.
Responding to media reports, Benjamin Nahum of Neuberger
Berman, told Reuters in an interview that his preference would
be for OfficeMax to declare a special dividend before merging
with Office Depot.
"In our view this would facilitate a fair deal," Nahum said.
Earlier on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that
OfficeMax and Office Depot were in advanced talks to merge.
Neuberger Berman said OfficeMax shareholders should be
compensated for "the balance sheet strength that we bring to
this combined entity."
The news came months after the investment firm called on the
third-largest U.S. office supply chain to return money to
shareholders in the form of a dividend or share repurchases and
raised the specter of a proxy fight next year if the retailer
fails to comply.
According to Thomson Reuters' data, Neuberger Berman owns
4.76 percent of OfficeMax, making it the third-largest
shareholder of the Naperville, Illinois company.
OfficeMax and Office Depot did not comment on the news of a