Some progressive politicians are pushing back against Kroger Co.’s proposed acquisition of Albertsons Cos., saying it would lead to less competition and higher prices for consumers.
The antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to hold hearings on the $24.6 billion deal because of “serious concerns” about its effects on the food retail landscape, according to a joint statement from its ranking members, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah): “We will hold a hearing focused on this proposed merger and the consequences consumers may face if this deal moves forward.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has already come out against the deal, tweeting, “More mergers and less competition would mean even higher prices — and layoffs for employees,” and calling for the Federal Trade Commission to block it. Other Senators raising concerns about the deal include Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-N.H.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The politicians are urging FTC chair Lina Khan to closely examine the merger. CNN reported that Khan wrote an article for a law journal in 2017 in which she looked at how antitrust concerns got handled after Albertsons merged with Safeway in 2015.
Albertsons spun off 146 stores to satisfy antitrust concerns, just as Kroger is planning to do with this deal. However, the small chain that bought those stores soon went bankrupt, allowing Albertsons to buy dozens of them back at a discount. In her article, Khan called this a “spectacular” failure.