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Office supplies retailer Staples Inc. delayed its planned merger with rival Office Depot Inc. on Wednesday as federal regulators continue their effort to block the deal.

The boards of both companies said they will extend their merger agreement, which was set to expire Feb. 4, more than three months to May 16. The extension will allow ongoing federal court litigation to conclude, the companies said in a joint statement.

"This merger creates an unparalleled opportunity to better serve our customers and to deliver shareholder value," said Ron Sargent, chief executive of Framingham-based Staples. "We are committed to completing this transaction and look forward to a full and impartial judicial review."

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Staples and Office Depot, of Boca Raton, Fla., signed a merger agreement in February 2015, arguing that a combined company would be better positioned to compete for customers while reducing costs.

But the Federal Trade Commission said last month that the $6.3 billion combination of the country's two biggest office supplies chains would reduce competition and raise prices, and it moved to block the transaction. Staples and Office Depot are fighting the FTC's move to block the deal.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.