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Kroger_Albertsons_merger-logos_3_2.jpg Kroger / Albertsons
The federal government has tightened its fist over mergers recently.

FTC turns to competition about Kroger / Albertsons merger

Government agency wants to know everything about how the deal could change the market landscape

Nothing like a little talking behind the back to get the rumor mill churning, but according to the Federal Trade Commission the inquiry is a necessary one in the investigation of the Kroger / Albertsons merger. The FTC is reaching out to the competition and asking questions … and anything goes.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the FTC wants to know how retailers and wholesalers think about how the merger would change the grocery landscape. The regulatory agency is asking questions that involve product sourcing and pricing, online operations details, store labor dynamics, how the “own brands” program at Kroger and Albertsons work, and how shopper data is used.

The federal government has tightened its fist over mergers recently. The agency sued Microsoft in attempt to stop it from buying Activision-Blizzard earlier this year. The Penquin Random House / Simon & Shuster publishing merger was broken up due to government scrutiny, and a hedge fund deal to purchase TV station owner Tegna is receiving some push back.

The Kroger-Albertson deal is receiving more negative attention from those outside of Washington, D.C. A group of consumers have filed a class-action lawsuit and the Arizona Attorney General is looking into the merger. Unions representing more than 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers have been protesting the deal since it was first announced. There also has been two rounds of questioning from the FTC.

Still, Kroger and Albertsons officials are confident the $25 billion deal will be approved. In the meantime, Kroger is connecting with former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the hopes the Washington veteran can help get the support needed to get Congressional approval for the Kroger-Albertsons merger. Kroger now has Boehner, who is working for law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, under contract. He’s not going to register to lobby, but he will provide counsel to Kroger executives. Tommy Andrews and David Schnittger, two former Boehner aids who also work at Squire Patton Boggs, and Caren Street, former chief of staff to then-Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), will be Kroger lobbyists. Bass is the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Kroger spent $950,000 on lobbying efforts last year, while Albertsons dropped $2.2 million. Jeff Miller, who has ties to current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), has been lobbying on behalf of Albertsons.



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