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Lawsuits & Litigation

Washington Files Lawsuit to Prevent Planned Merger Between Kroger and Albertsons

— January 16, 2024

The state’s lawsuit cites alleged statements from higher-level Albertsons officials, who apparently protested that the merger would be bad for consumers and “basically create a monopoly.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Kroger and Albertsons from completing a planned merger.

According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed earlier this week in King County Superior Court. In his complaint, Ferguson claimed that the proposed $25 billion agreement between Kroger and Albertsons—among the two largest grocery chains in the country—could harm consumers and raise prices.

“This merger is bad for Washington shoppers and workers,” Ferguson said in a Monday statement. “Free enterprise is built on companies competing, and that competition [is what] benefits consumers.”

“Shoppers will have fewer choices and less competition, and, without a competitive marketplace, they will pay higher prices at the grocery store,” he said. “That’s not right, and this lawsuit seeks to stop this harmful merger.”

Gavel on copy of lawsuit; image by Wirestock, via
Gavel on copy of lawsuit; image by Wirestock, via

Kroger has since said that it is delaying the completion of the deal, citing ongoing conversation with state and federal regulators. Barring any unexpected setbacks, the company said that it believes it will finalize the merger within the first half of its fiscal year, ending in August 2024.

“While this is taking longer than we originally thought, we knew it was a possibility and […] accounted for such potential timing,” Kroger said in a statement.

Although both Kroger and Albertsons have insisted that their merger would actually benefit consumers, the companies took some measures to mitigate the legal ramifications of their merger—including the sale of more than 100 stores across Washington.

Nonetheless, Ferguson’s office says that these steps are inadequate and would not change “the fact that Kroger would still enjoy a near-monopoly in many markets in the state.”

“In addition,” the Attorney General’s Office said, “the plan to sell these stores to a company that is primarily a wholesale supplier could set up many of the divested supermarkets to fail, endangering Washington jobs and further diminishing choices for Washington shoppers.”

Interestingly, the state’s lawsuit notes that, after rumors of a potential merger emerged, some corporate officials—including an Albertsons vice president—voiced concern that the combined influence of the two companies would “basically [create] a monopoly in grocery with the merger.”

“It would make no sense,” the vice president allegedly said.

Another Albertsons official, identified as a Human Resources director, also opined that a merger would not benefit consumers in any conceivable way.

“It’s all about pricing and competition,” they said, “and we all know prices will not go down.”

The lawsuit seeks a court order preventing the merger from being completed, both in Washington state and nationwide.


AG Ferguson files lawsuit to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

WA attorney general sues to block Kroger, Albertsons merger

Washington state sues to block proposed merger of Kroger and Albertsons grocery chains

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