US sues to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

 Protests against Kroger-Albertsons merger.
Protests against Kroger-Albertsons merger.

What happened?

The Federal Trade Commission sued Monday to block the $24.6 billion merger between grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons. Nine states joined the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon. The combination of Kroger and Albertsons and their several brands would be the largest grocery merger yet.

Who said what?

"Kroger's acquisition of Albertsons would lead to additional grocery price hikes for everyday goods," said Henry Liu, the director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition. The merger would "ensure our neighborhood supermarkets can better compete" with "mega retailers" like Walmart, Costco and Amazon, Albertsons said, "benefiting our customers," workers and communities.

The commentary

The lawsuit "shows that the FTC understands how the outsized power of big retailers is damaging the entire food system," said Stacy Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. 

What next?

A federal judge in Oregon will first decide whether to grant the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction, then "how much competition is lost to the merger," The Wall Street Journal said. Kroger and Albertsons hoped to close this year.