Office Depot Buys Controlling Interest in Chinese Firm

Oct 02, 2006 4:10 AM  By

The $14.4 billion Office Depot announced Thursday that it acquired a controlling interest in AsiaEC, one of the largest dealers of office products and services in China. Financial terms were not disclosed.

AsiaEC is headquartered in Beijing and has offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. The company, which does not have any stores, has 500 employees supporting its contract sales, direct mail, and Internet businesses.

Brian Levine, vice president of corporate communications for Delray Beach, FL-based Office Depot, told MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT that the acquisition is part of the company’s international expansion plans, a priority within the company.

“AsiaEC is a fascinating company,” Levine says. “It’s been in existence for about six years now. It’s focused on b-to-b delivery and operates in several of the key markets in China. AsiaEC typically targets large corporate customers, including multinationals, and also does considerable business with medium-size customers.”

Tim Liu, founder/CEO of AsiaEC, said in a statement: “Combining Office Depot’s multichannel sales expertise with AsiaEC’s proven, scalable business infrastructure will give customers throughout China an even wider array of solutions.” AsiaEC will operate under the Office Depot International division.

As of July, Office Depot had 1,071 stores in North America as well as stores that are company-owned, licensed, or franchised in other parts of the world. In late August, Office Depot announced the acquisition of Papyrus, a supplier of office products and services in Eastern Europe. Based in the Czech Republic, Papirius also has operations in Lithuania, Hungary, and Slovakia.

And in May, Office Depot had announced the acquisition of Allied Office Products, the largest privately held office products company in the U.S. Clifton, NJ-based Allied has annual revenue of more than $300 million and operates 15 sales offices from New York to California. It sells primarily through its roughly 300 account executives and offers online procurement.