Depot takes first step in China


2 June 2006 — Beijing (CHN): Office Depot is understood to have made its first strategic move into the lucrative Chinese market with the acquisition of a stake in online e-procurement company was China’s first business-to-business e-commerce service provider and is an online and offline vendor of operating resources, including OP.  
Sources say the two companies signed an initial agreement last month and are currently undergoing system integration trials. If confirmed, the deal will rival Staple’s entry into the region through a 2004 joint venture with
Founded in 1999, AsiaEC, whose Chinese name, "Yashang zai xian" means "Asian merchants online", is based in Beijing and has operations in Shanghai and Guangdong.
The company was formed in 1999 by current CFO Mark Qiu and three partners. The trio, who were all born and raised in China, met in Boston while attending the Sloane School of Management, a division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and invested $300,000 of their own money in the start-up venture.
In 2001, AsiaEC entered into an alliance agreement with Buhrmann to market the ‘Corporate Express’ brand in Asian markets.

A spokesman for Office Depot told OPI: "We do not have anything to announce at this time."