Washington State plans to sue to block Kroger’s deal for Albertsons – Bloomberg News

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Kroger supermarket chain’s headquarters is shown in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., June 28, 2018. Picture taken June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein/File Photo

(Reuters) -The Washington State attorney general is planning to file a lawsuit to block supermarket chain Kroger (NYSE:)’s proposed $24.6-billion acquisition of smaller rival Albertsons (NYSE:), Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing a person familiar with the plan.

The lawsuit could come as soon as Thursday afternoon and is expected to be filed in state court, the report said.

“Any decision to attempt to enjoin the transaction now would be premature,” a Kroger spokesperson said, adding the company was engaged in “productive discussions” with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state Attorneys General.

“The only parties that would benefit if this deal is blocked would be Amazon (NASDAQ:), Walmart (NYSE:) and other large, non-union retailers,” an Albertsons spokesperson said.

The proposed merger has drawn the ire of U.S. lawmakers and an investigation by the FTC due to antitrust concerns, with worries piling up that the deal would lead to higher prices for consumers, store closures and loss of jobs.

Six U.S. lawmakers including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders had written to the FTC showing their opposition to the deal, Reuters last month reported. California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in October his office may sue to stop the deal.

While Kroger has proposed to divest 413 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers to get regulatory approval, lawmakers argued the sale would not address harm to consumers, workers, and the grocery industry.

Separately on Thursday, Axios reported the FTC was not likely to weigh in on the merger until February, citing a source close to the FTC’s thinking.

The FTC and Kroger did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the Axios report.

The grocers had said they expect to complete the merger by early 2024 following the completion of FTC’s review.

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