By Jonathan Davies

US parcel delivery giant FedEx is to buy Dutch rival TNT Express for €4.4bn ($4.8bn; £3.2bn).

In a statement, both companies said they had reached a "conditional agreement" as FedEx looks to expand its operations in Europe.

FedEx has offered 33% above TNT's share price at close on 2 April. It will purchase a 95% stake and intends to de-list TNT Express from the stock market in Amsterdam.

FedEx's European headquarters will be based in the Dutch capital.

Included in the deal was an agreement to avoid significant redundancies. The news will come as reassurance to workers in the UK. TNT currently has a significant presence in Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester and Atherstone in Warwickshire.

Frederick W Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation, 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, CEO of TNT Express, said: "This offer comes at a time of important transformations within TNT Express and we were fully geared to executing our standalone 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."

TNT Express was the subject of an attempted takeover two years ago, when FedEx's rival Universal Postal Service (UPS) pulled out of its €5.2bn bid.