Kroger CEO vows legal action if needed for $24.6B Albertsons merger: report
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Kroger’s top executive officer is ready to go to court if US regulators try to stop its $24.6 billion merger with Albertsons, according to a report.
“Usually you wouldn’t commit in advance to litigate. In this case, we both committed to litigate in advance,” Kroger Chief Executive Officer Rodney McMullen told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Kroger doesn’t necessarily expect antitrust regulators at the US Federal Trade Commission to oppose the deal as the company pushes to complete it early next year, McMullen told Bloomberg.
The Cincinnati-based national grocery store chain has been in talks with FTC about the agreement and the process is “where we thought we would be at this time,” he said, according to the report.
The merger already won a round in court.
Last fall, the state of Washington’s Attorney General sued to block Albertsons from “enriching its shareholders with a $4 billion payout before a proposed merger with The Kroger Co. can be reviewed by state and federal antitrust enforcers,” according to a news release from his office.
The “special dividend” payment, Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued, risks “severely undercutting the grocery giant’s ability to compete during the lengthy period of time government regulators — including Washington — will be scrutinizing the merger,” the release states.
Ferguson’s lawsuit sought to block the payout to Albertsons’ shareholders but the Washington Supreme Court rejected the legal action in a Jan. 17 order.
Nationwide, Kroger and Albertsons have nearly 800,000 employees in nearly 5,000 stores across 48 states and the District of Columbia, according to the release.
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