Office Depot chief resigns after SEC settlement

Boca Raton, Fla. -- Office Depot announced Monday that its chairman and CEO Steve Odland has resigned from the company. The departure comes just days after Office Depot, Odland and the former CFO were levied with civil penalties related to an SEC probe.

Odland’s departure, effective Nov. 1, is by mutual agreement with the Office Depot board of directors, said the company.

Office Depot recently reported that it agreed to pay $1 million to settle federal charges that it overstated earnings and revealed information to a group of investors and analysts that it failed to include in public filings. Odland and former CFO Patricia McKay each will pay civil penalties of $50,000.

Odland will be replaced in the interim by lead director and former NFL president Neil Austrian, who will step in as interim chairman and CEO. Odland will remain on board as a consultant until the end of the year. Office Depot has tapped Heidrick & Struggles to find a permanent replacement.

Austrian said in a statement that "this is an appropriate time to seek new leadership to make the most of the platform we have in place, return to sales growth, improve financial performance and reinvigorate our franchise."

In 2008, a dissident shareholder group rallied to replace Odland and former chairman David Fuente from the board but withdrew its nominees in the face of resistance from major proxy advisory firms.

Office Depot operates 1,600 stores worldwide.

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