Washington State Sues to Block Kroger-Albertsons Merger

Kroger Pushes Back Timeline for Closing Deal
A Kroger store
A Kroger store in Novi, Mich. (Ed Pevos/Ann Arbor News via Associated Press)

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SEATTLE — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Jan. 15 sued to block the proposed merger of Kroger and Albertsons, two of the nation’s largest grocery chains.

In the suit filed in King County Superior Court, Ferguson argued that the $25 billion deal would harm consumers and raise prices, The Seattle Times reported. Kroger and Albertsons have more than 300 locations in the state and account for more than half of its grocery sales, according to the suit.

“This merger is bad for Washington shoppers and workers,” Ferguson said in a release. “Shoppers will have fewer choices and less competition, and, without a competitive marketplace, they will pay higher prices at the grocery store.”

Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer and is based in Cincinnati, is seeking to acquire Albertsons, which owns Safeway and Haggen and is based in Boise, Idaho.

In a statement, Kroger said it was pushing back its timeline for closing the deal because of ongoing dialogue with regulators, including state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission. It now anticipates the closure may occur in the first half of its fiscal year, which ends in mid-August.

“While this is longer than we originally thought, we knew it was a possibility and ... accounted for such potential timing,” the statement said.

The company claimed the merger will bring lower prices for consumers.

Ferguson’s lawsuit was endorsed by United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 3000, which represents Kroger and Albertsons employees in Washington, northeast Oregon and northern Idaho, The Seattle Times reported.

An Albertsons store

An Albertsons store in Boise, Idaho. (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman via Associated Press)

“Workers, shoppers and our communities need to prevent this proposed mega-merger from taking place,” Yasmin Ashur, a union member who works in an Albertsons grocery store, said in a union statement.

Last year, seeking to clear a path for a merger, Kroger and Albertsons announced plans to sell more than 400 stores and other assets to C&S Wholesale Grocers, a wholesale grocery supplier, amid concerns about market dominance.

Kroger and Albertsons agreed to merge in 2022. The grocery chains say they must merge to compete with Walmart, Amazon and other major companies that have stepped into the grocery business.

If the deal goes through, the combination of the two grocery companies would also unite two major private trucking fleets. Kroger and Albertsons rank Nos. 38 and 40, respectively, on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America and Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, on the list of top grocers.

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