Office-supplies retailer Staples ( SPLS) reached a deal to buy Corporate Express ( CXP) of the Netherlands for roughly $2.6 billion, expanding its ability to sell merchandise to businesses and institutions and extending its global reach. Corporate Express wouldn't take a series of earlier lower bids from Staples, but it has agreed to accept a raised price of 9.25 euros per share. Including debt, the takeover is worth around $4.8 billion. Shares of Staples were advancing 3.2% to $23.90 in premarket trading Wednesday. Staples, Framingham, Mass., said the combination will establish a contract business for the company in Europe and Canada, while fueling its North American delivery operation in the U.S., currently its fastest growing and most profitable unit. The deal will also give Staples a hold in Australia and New Zealand. Had the two companies been joined in fiscal 2007, the combined operation would have had revenue of $27 billion. As a result of the acquisition, Staples is set to have sales that further outpace smaller rivals Office Depot ( ODP) and OfficeMax ( OMX). "We have tremendous respect for Corporate Express, and we know they share our passion for outstanding customer service," said Ron Sargent, Staples' chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement. "Bringing together these two great companies is a win for customers, employees and shareholders, and I look forward to working with
Corporate Express CEO Peter Ventress and his team." After the transaction closes, Ventress will remain with the company, becoming president of Staples International, a new position that will oversee the business outside of the U.S. and Canada. Because of the Staples arrangement, Corporate Express terminated the merger agreement it had signed with France's Lyreco.