Big merger in the office-supply industry?

Office Depot and OfficeMax are reportedly mulling a merger. (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg)

The stock prices of Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc. surged Tuesday on word that the companies are contemplating a merger to better compete against Staples Inc.

The two office-supply chains are reportedly in talks that could result in a deal this week.

Shares of Office Depot jumped 37 cents, or 8.1%, to $4.96. OfficeMax stock rose $2.11, or nearly 20%, to $12.86.

Still, both companies are far off their all-time highs. Office Depot reached nearly $45 in mid-2006. OfficeMax peaked at nearly $55 in early 2007.

Despite investors’ initial euphoria, there are questions about whether the potential merger could survive antitrust scrutiny. A deal would leave only two big-box office retailers.

The Justice Department blocked Staples from acquiring Office Depot in 1997 for fear of reducing competition.

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