The Commerce Commission has approved Tiri Group as the purchaser for office products company Winc New Zealand, formerly known as Staples.
Tiri Group is a diverse set of engineering and distribution businesses, which is 85 per cent owned by Rich Lister Tom Sturgess.
The Commission yesterday announced it had approved the purchase of Winc by TSPV1, a Tiri subsidiary, resolving competition concerns arising from its owner, Platinum Equity, buying rival stationery and office products firm OfficeMax Australia and New Zealand.
The sale price was not released disclosed.
Sturgess, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1996 to lead Blue Star Group, has solid experience in the office supplies sector - he acquired Blue Star's print business in 2001, sold it and bought it back again after the company got in trouble in 2013.
In addition, Sturgess acquired the rump of printer Geon's business when it too found itself in financial trouble, while also operating as the one-time CEO of US Wholesalers Associated and United Stationers.
Platinum acquired Winc Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) in March 2017, and in April 2017 sought to acquire OfficeMax operations on both sides of the Tasman.
Platinum had not applied for clearance, however, and the Commission was concerned that the acquisition would be likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the supply of stationery and office products to large corporate and government customers.
Winc and OfficeMax are the two largest suppliers of stationery and office products to large corporate and government customers in New Zealand, with both reselling ICT products and services from a range of vendors.
Winc reported sales of $77.8 million for the 11 months to 30 December 2018 and for the previous year to 28 January 2018, the business reported $84.4 million in sales.
Meanwhile, net profit was $1.1 million to 30 December down from $4.7 million for the year to 28 January.
OfficeMax Holdings, which also operates the Croxley and NZ Office Products brands, reported total revenues of $309 million for the year to 30 December 2017 and a net loss of $16.2 million after deducting an impairment of a $28 million loan to its former parent company OfficeMax International.
In the previous year, OfficeMax impaired $50 million it had lent to OfficeMax International to record a net loss of $35.5 million - the total $78 million of loans to OfficeMax International was then fully repaid in February 2018.
OfficeMax's ultimate parent before Platinum bought the company was US giant Office Depot.
In November 2017 the Commission joined Complete Office Supplies’ High Court injunction proceedings to prevent the OfficeMax acquisition.
Platinum provided an undertaking to the Commission and the Court in April 2018 committing to divest Winc NZ to a purchaser approved by the Commission once Platinum acquired OfficeMax.
Meanwhile, Australia's competition watchdog gave the go-ahead for Platinum's acquisition of both OfficeMax and Winc in February.