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OfficeMax shares up 31 pct. on report of merger talks

**FILE** Patrick Bollig sales manager for OfficeMax Fairbanks Alaskcarries printer from companies furthest-north United States store this May 1 2007

**FILE** Patrick Bollig, sales manager for the OfficeMax in Fairbanks, Alaska carries a printer from the companies furthest-north United States store in this May 1, 2007 file photo. OfficeMax Inc., the nation's third-largest office supply retailer, said Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007 that its second-quarter profit was unchanged from a year ago, but beat Wall Street expectations. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, file)

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:32AM

Naperville-based OfficeMax Inc.’s shares shot up 31 percent in early trading Tuesday after a Wall Street Journal report that it is in merger talks with Office Depot Inc.

Shares of Office Depot rose nearly 33 percent.

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

OfficeMax reports its fourth-quarter results on Thursday, while Office Depot is expected to report results next week. Representatives of both companies declined to comment on merger talks.

The office supply business is very competitive. Staples is a big player, along with Amazon and big discount stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart.

Office Depot, based in Boca Raton, Fla., has about 1,675 stores worldwide, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. OfficeMax has about 900 stores in the U.S. 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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