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OfficeMax, Office Depot may combine

Reports indicate talks are far along

If OfficeMax and Office Depot were to merge, it would create a bigger rival to Framingham-based Staples.

Abilene Reporter-News via Associated Press

If OfficeMax and Office Depot were to merge, it would create a bigger rival to Framingham-based Staples.

NEW YORK — OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc. are talking about combining their companies, according to Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News reports on Monday.

The Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said talks are at an advanced stage and that an announcement could come as early as this week.

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A combined company would be a bigger rival for Staples Inc., the industry leader based in Framingham, Mass.

Office Depot has been exploring its options since September, when the activist fund Starboard Value LP became its largest shareholder, Bloomberg News reported, adding that a merger would create a company with almost $18 billion in revenue.

Starboard has been pushing Office Depot to create more value for shareholders. It owns 14.8 percent of the chain.

Last year, Staples had about $25 billion in revenue.

OfficeMax, the number three office-supply company, reports its fourth-quarter results on Thursday. Number two Office­ Depot is expected to report results next week.

Representatives of both companies declined to comment on merger talks.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based ­Office Depot has about 1,675 stores worldwide, mostly in the United States and Canada. ­OfficeMax, of Naperville, Ill., has about 900 stores in the United States and Mexico.

If the two companies merged, they could close stores that compete against each other, as well as reduce costs.

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