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Washington attorney general to sue to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

Teamsters oppose Kroger-Albertsons merger

Yet another installment of the drawn-out drama of the Kroger BB #:100073-Albertsons BB #:193326 merger comes with news that Bob Ferguson, the Washington State attorney general, is planning to file a lawsuit to block it.

The suit is expected to be filed in state court. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is not part of the suit, and, if it chooses to oppose the merger, is most likely to do so in federal court.

The lawsuit comes as the FTC still waits on its decision to approve or block the merger, a move that at this point is not expected to come till February. A deadline for the decision in December has passed, and it seems unlikely that the current January 17 deadline will be met.

“Any decision to attempt to enjoin the transaction now would be premature,” said a Kroger spokesperson, adding the company was engaged in “productive discussions” with the FTC and state attorneys general.

The merger, which has attracted strong opposition from dozens of consumer and industry groups, including Western Growers and the California Fresh Fruit Association, also drew fire from six members of Congress, including senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who on December 13 sent a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan to oppose it.

Indeed, Kroger itself has disclosed that regulators were still not convinced of the merits of the proposed merger.

The two companies argue that the merger is necessary in order for their chains to compete with online retailers such as Amazon and discount chains such as Walmart.

“The only parties that would benefit if this deal is blocked would be Amazon, Walmart and other large, non-union retailers,” an Albertsons spokesperson said.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.