American courier firm FedEx has entered into an agreement to purchase Dutch rival TNT Express for $44bn.

The purchase of TNT will allow the courier giant to expand its European operations, with the European regional headquarters of the two combined companies to reside in Amsterdam and Hoofddorp.

In a joint statement the companies said the deal will “transform FedEx’s European capabilities and accelerate global growth.”

“Customers will enjoy access to an enhanced, integrated global network, combining TNT Express’ strong European capabilities and FedEx’s strength in other regions globally, including North America and Asia,” said the statement.

Frederick Smith, boss of FedEx, said: “We believe that this strategic acquisition will add significant value for FedEx shareowners, team members and customers around the globe. This transaction allows us to quickly broaden our portfolio of international transportation solutions to take advantage of market trends – especially the continuing growth of global e-commerce – and positions FedEx for greater long-term profitable growth.”

Tex Gunning, chief executive officer of TNT Express, said: “This offer comes at a time of important transformations within TNT Express and we were fully geared to executing our stand-alone strategy. But while we did not solicit an acquisition, we truly believe that FedEx’s proposal, both from a financial and a non-financial view, is good news for all stakeholders. Our people and customers can profit from the true global reach and expanded propositions, while with this offer our shareholders can already reap benefits today that otherwise would only have been available in the longer run.”