Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a statement on Monday regarding the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision to decline review of the Albertson’s merger case. The case, which was filed by the Attorney General’s office in an effort to block the merger between Albertson’s and Kroger Co., had previously been dismissed by a lower court.
What is going on?
In his statement published during the third week of January, Attorney General Ferguson expressed disappointment in the court’s decision, stating that the merger would have an adverse effect on working-class Washingtonians that need access to affordable groceries during the current economic downturn. The proposed merger, which was announced in February of this year, would create a company with more than 4,900 stores and $83 billion in annual revenue. If the merger were to go through, Albertson’s shareholders would receive $1.83 billion in cash and $2.17 billion in stock in the new company.
Why is it so important?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also raised concerns about the merger, stating that it would “significantly reduce competition in numerous local markets.” The FTC is currently reviewing the merger to determine whether it would violate antitrust laws. This is a serious issue in antitrust enforcement and could set the precedent for other major conglomerates to combine forces and weaken the overall buying power of working-class consumers all over the country. The pharmacy industry has already seen similar occurrences and the rise of major grocery store conglomerates would only serve to weaken the buying power of individuals in the state that much more.
Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to decline review of the case, Attorney General Ferguson affirmed that his office remains committed to protecting Washington consumers from anti-competitive business practices. He stated, “We will continue to fight to keep prices low and protect competition for Washington families.”
The Albertson’s-Krogermerger remains under review by the Federal Trade Commission. The outcome of the review and the future of the merger remains uncertain at this time. The case highlights the ongoing debate about the impact of mergers and acquisitions on competition and consumer prices and may set a precedent on what organizations may be able to get away with in the future.