Office Depot-OfficeMax Say CEO Hunt Down to Five

Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc., which agreed to merge in February, narrowed the field of candidates to be the combined company’s chief executive officer down to five and plan to pick one by September.

More than 100 candidates have been reviewed and eight have been interviewed, the companies said today in a statement, without naming the remaining five. The search is being conducted by Korn/Ferry International and a committee co-chaired by OfficeMax director Jim Marino and Office Depot director Nigel Travis.

Office Depot and OfficeMax, the second- and third-largest U.S. office-supply chains, agreed to combine in a $1.17 billion deal after losing sales to larger rival Staples Inc. and online competitors. The retailers said at the time that they would create a board with equal representation from each company while searching for a new CEO.

Neil Austrian, Office Depot’s 73-year-old chairman and CEO, and Ravi Saligram, OfficeMax’s 57-year-old president and CEO, both would be considered as candidates, the companies said in February.

Office Depot, based in Boca Raton, Florida, rose 3.3 percent to $4.37 at the close in New York. OfficeMax, based in Naperville, Illinois, gained 2.9 percent to $11.31.