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Kroger-Albertsons merger delayed but still in the works

Kroger-Albertsons merger delayed but still in the works

Kroger had hoped its proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons would be completed in March of this year but now expects it to close in the late spring or early summer. In a joint statement released by Kroger, Albertsons, and C&S Wholesale Grocers, ongoing discussions with regulators were cited as the reason for the delay. The companies said they remain in active dialogue with the FTC and individual state attorneys general regarding their plan.

As part of the deal, Kroger agreed last fall to divest 413 stores and eight distribution centers to C&S, the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S. and operator of Grand Union and Piggly Wiggly supermarkets.

The Kroger-Albertsons acquisition has been criticized by U.S. politicians over antitrust concerns, and last week Washington state regulators filed a lawsuit to stop the deal, claiming it would jeopardize jobs, reduce competition, and result in higher prices.

In addition, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters asked the FTC to reject the sale of Kroger or Albertson assets to C&S, saying it would put members’ jobs at risk. C&S asserts that it will recognize the union workforce, retain frontline employees, and maintain all collective bargaining agreements.

Kroger has also said it will protect union jobs and that no stores or frontline employees will lost their jobs as a result of the merger. In addition, the company says it will invest $1 billion to raise wages and benefits for all associates, and provide 700,000 employees with access to its continuing education benefit that reimburses them up to $21,000 toward higher learning.