A PYMNTS Company

Colorado AG Sues to Halt Kroger-Albertsons Merger, Citing Antitrust Concerns

 |  February 15, 2024

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has announced legal action against the proposed $25 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons. Weiser, on Wednesday, accused the supermarket giants of “blatantly violating antitrust law” and emphasized the detrimental impact the merger would have on consumers, workers, and suppliers alike.

The lawsuit comes as a significant blow to the proposed merger, with Weiser asserting that the consolidation would effectively eliminate head-to-head competition between Kroger and Albertsons, leading to potential price hikes and reduced options for consumers. Notably, Kroger currently operates 148 stores in Colorado under banners such as King Soopers and City Market, while Albertsons manages 105 stores under its own name and the Safeway banner.

Of particular concern to Weiser is the concentration of market power that would result from the merger, especially in urban areas like Denver, where the potential for price manipulation looms large. Moreover, smaller markets such as Gunnison, where only two supermarkets operated by the merging rivals exist, would also be profoundly affected.

Read more: US Unions Talk Out Against The Albertsons-Kroger Merger

This legal action marks the second antitrust case filed by a state to block the Kroger-Albertsons merger, following Washington state’s lawsuit filed on January 15. Additionally, a pending consumer lawsuit in federal court in California seeks to halt the deal, reflecting widespread apprehension regarding the potential consequences of the merger.

While federal regulators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are still deliberating on whether to challenge the merger, the involvement of multiple states in legal action adds a new dimension to the regulatory landscape. Christine Bartholomew, a law professor at the University at Buffalo, underscored the significance of state-level antitrust actions, noting that they pose separate legal threats that could derail the merger.

Responding to the legal challenges, Kroger issued a statement affirming its commitment to addressing antitrust concerns raised by various attorneys general and the FTC. The supermarket chain indicated its willingness to cooperate with regulatory authorities in navigating the complexities of the merger approval process.

As the legal battle unfolds, the fate of the Kroger-Albertsons merger hangs in the balance, with stakeholders closely watching developments that could reshape the landscape of the grocery industry in Colorado and beyond.

Source: Cincinnati