Staples Inc. announced Tuesday it has increased its offer to buy Corporate Express for $14.23 per share and sealed commitments from almost a quarter of holders of the Dutch company.

The offer is a 26 percent increase from Staples' original offer to buy the Amsterdam-based office supplies company at $11.27 per share on February 19, bringing the total to $2.7 billion.

In a statement, Corporate Express said that it would review the new bid and comment once it had reached a decision. However, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated Tuesday, the company urged its holders to approve to buy Lyreco, a French competitor, for $27.3 billion.

In a statement, Staples said that holders of 23.3 percent of Corporate Express had committed to vote for its offer and reject the Lyreco deal.

At our increased offer price, there is no question that Staples' offer is the superior choice for Corporate Express shareholders, said Ron Sargent, Staples chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Staples' offer provides certain and immediate cash value, without the significant risks found in Corporate Express' long-term business plan, with or without Lyreco. ...We strongly believe that a Staples-Corporate Express combination is in the best interests of all shareholders as well as the interests of employees and customers.

Staples shares rose 0.9 percent to $23.27 in U.S. trading, while Corporate Express shares jumped 3.7 percent to $13.61.

Staples said its offer to buy Corporate Express is expected to close in early July 2008.

Framingham, Mass.-based Staples Inc. operates more than 2,000 office supply stores worldwide and employs about 76,000 people. Sales in 2007 were $19.4 billion.