What happened

Shares of Staples Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) were up 10.2% as of 11:15 a.m. EDT Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal reported (may require subscription) the office supply retailer is exploring a potential sale.

So what

More specifically, sources familiar with the situation told WSJ that Staples is in early acquisition talks "with a small number of possible private-equity bidders." The move comes less than a year after Staples was forced to terminate its planned merger with Office Depot over antitrust concerns from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
 
Drawing of big fish eating little fish

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Now what

This shouldn't be terribly surprising considering that, just last month, Staples announced an agreement to sell its Australia and New Zealand business to private equity firm Platinum Equity for an undisclosed sum. That transaction is expected to close sometime in the second quarter of this year.

"As we execute our plan for long-term growth we want to focus primarily on our Staples' North American business," said Staples CEO Shira Goodman at the time, "and this will allow us to better do that."

But if Staples is indeed considering selling its entire business now, a hefty acquisition premium could go a long way toward recouping investors' losses with shares still down around 14% over the past year.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.