August 17, 2023

7 US Secretaries of State Voice Opposition to Kroger Albertsons Merger

The pending acquisition of Albertsons by The Kroger Company is facing new opposition from seven secretaries of state representing Colorado, Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont, who this week wrote a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan asking for the merger to be stopped, according to a Reuters report.

The officials, all elected Democrats, pointed out the agreement would give Kroger/Albertsons nearly 25 percent of the US food retail market. “We are strongly opposed to this merger and urge you to stop this corporate consolidation that is draining Americans of their hard-earned wages and livelihoods,” they wrote.

Other Democractic officials have also expressed opposition to the merger, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.). However, according to Bloomberg Law, Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) expressed his support for the deal as it could help grow and strengthen Kroger as the largest union company in the US. Yet, “The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents several hundred thousand Kroger employees, opposes the merger,” according to Bloomberg.

The two companies have been actively promoting the merger as a positive for both consumers and farmers through a new website in support of the move. While the FTC hasn’t yet approved the $24.6 billion deal, industry media has been speculating on potential moves the companies might make in order to get that approval. According to Farm Progress, “The Oregonian reports that Kroger may divest its holdings of Fred Meyer and QFC stores as part of its merger with Albertsons. Will that be enough to assuage FTC concerns as it considers antitrust arguments? [Kroger CEO Rodney] McMullen is on the record saying Kroger will fight this battle in the courts if necessary.”

Reuters reports the FTC has been working with experts in farming, food deserts and smaller grocery chains to examine the long-term ramifications of such a merger and ultimately, “While federal antitrust agencies often work with state attorneys general on merger reviews, they do not usually work with secretaries of state, who in many states have a more limited business-oversight role.”

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