Bloomberg reports that Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson "is expected to file a lawsuit seeking to block Kroger Co.’s proposed takeover of Albertsons Cos."
According to the story, "The lawsuit is expected to be filed in state court, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing an ongoing investigation.
"The US Federal Trade Commission and a group of other states that are also probing the deal aren’t involved in the Washington state lawsuit, the person said. Any lawsuit by the FTC would likely be filed in federal court."
Bloomberg notes that "Ferguson, a Democrat running for governor this fall, previously sued in an unsuccessful effort to stop Albertsons from paying $4 billion to shareholders as a special dividend after it announced the Kroger deal. Albertsons said the dividend payment was independent of the merger, and a state court declined to block the payout.
"State attorneys general have independent authority to enforce state and federal antitrust law, but in most cases join together with federal enforcers on lawsuits. Those partnerships have sometimes fallen by the wayside on particular mergers, for example, a group of states unsuccessfully sought to block T-Mobile US Inc.’s purchase of Sprint even though the Justice Department okayed the deal with conditions. But states rarely opt to take on major mergers on their own."
Kroger and Albertsons continue to maintain that the $24.6 billion deal is necessary to allow them to compete more effectively with Walmart, Amazon and Costco, that prices will go down as a result, and that no front line jobs will be lost. They've also agreed to sell more than 400 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers as a way of eliminating antitrust concerns.
The FTC has not yet taken a position on whether it will try to block the deal.