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Wyoming joins FTC in lawsuit to stop Albertsons, Kroger merger

Albertsons operates two stores in Casper, one on CY Avenue and one on East Second Street, pictured here. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News File)

CASPER, Wyo. — A controversial upcoming merger between two of the largest grocery store chains hit a significant roadblock on Monday when the Federal Trade Commission file a lawsuit on Monday.

According to the Associated Press, the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon and joined by attorneys general of eight states and the District of Columbia, aims to stop the merger, which was announced in October 2022. Wyoming is also among the states involved in the suit.

The FTC says the proposed $24.6 billion deal would reduce competition and ultimately lead to higher food prices for millions of Americans.

“The companies said a merger would help them better compete with Walmart, Amazon, Costco and other big rivals,” the AP said. “Together, Kroger and Albertsons would control around 13% of the U.S. grocery market; Walmart controls 22%, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman.”

The companies said they would fight the FTC in court.

Ohio-based Kroger operates 2,750 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia, while Idaho-based Albertsons operates 2,273 stores in 34 states.

Sen. John Barrasso, left, exits the Albertsons store on East 2nd Street with Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran, center, and store director Dan Hittle after the two met with store employees in Casper on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News File)

After Sen. John Barrasso and Albertsons President and CEO Vivek Sankaran visited a Casper Albertsons in June 2023, a spokesperson for UFCW Local 7, the union representing grocery store workers, spoke out against the proposal in an email to Oil City News.

“Our members were glad to see Senator Barrasso visit their stores and hear directly from workers about their serious concerns about the Kroger–Albertsons merger,” they said.

“Any reassurances from Albertsons that workers will not be impacted by the merger due to store closures and/or divestures is not accurate, as we witnessed in the previous merger between Safeway and Albertsons when there were multiple closures throughout the state and workers lost their jobs, including two Safeway stores in Casper.”

To make the merger more appealing to regulators, Albertsons announced last year that they would sell more than 400 stores to C&S Wholesale Groceries, including its Albertsons-brand stores in Wyoming. C&S is a small company that currently owns around two dozen stores.

The full FTC filing can be seen here.