Alaska lawmakers push back on Kroger-Albertsons merger in letter to FTC chair

On September 22nd, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan sent together a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlining their concerns.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:59 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska lawmakers are continuing to push back against the proposed Kroger-Albertson merger that both companies announced last October.

Last week, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan penned a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan outlining their concerns about the merger. The lawmakers argue that the merger goes against the best interest of Alaskans and the state.

“There are simply too many unanswered questions and unforeseen consequences over the horizon should this merger be approved. When reviewing this proposed merger, we ask that you and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set a very high approval bar and consider the following issues that are essential to Alaskans’ well-being,” the letter stated.

Last month, Kroger announced it was going to be selling a total of 413 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers, LLC as part of a comprehensive $1.9 billion divestiture plan. A total of 14 of the 35 current Carrs-Safeway stores that are currently under the Albertsons brand are included in the deal, but it’s still unknown which ones will be affected.

“Because we are still in the regulatory process, we are not in a position at this time to share the specific locations that will be divested to continue serving the community under a different owner,” a Kroger spokesperson said. “We anticipate being able to share these details closer to closing.”

The spokesperson said the divestiture ensures that the merger will not close stores or lay off frontline employees.

As for the merger in general, lawmakers expressed concern it would result in fewer grocery stores with higher prices by eliminating a large competitor from the market.

“Alaskans need to be confident that these uncertainties about access and price will be addressed,” Murkowski stated in a press release.

A spokesperson from Kroger said the opposite will be true, adding that the merger, “will mean lower prices and more choices for more customers in more communities, higher wages and more industry-leading benefits for associates, securing union jobs and expanded opportunities for farmers and suppliers.”

The Alaska AFL-CIO, a labor union group in Anchorage, also expressed skepticism about the merger, specifically how the merger could set up opportunities for Kroger to price gouge consumers.

“They will really have kind of unfettered opportunity to raise prices so this is really bad news for Alaskans who already pay high prices for groceries and shipping and all the other things. So we think this is really bad for consumers,” said Joelle Hall, the president of the Alaska AFL-CIO.