Colorado will lead a multi-state investigation into the proposed $25 billion merger between King Soopers’ parent company and Albertsons, which operates Safeway, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Thursday.
Weiser has also filed a brief to block Albertsons from paying its shareholders a $4 billion dividend before regulators review the merger. The move supports a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Preliminary injunctions “can last for a longer period of time” than a temporary restraining order, which was already granted to Ferguson. “Our job is to enforce anti-trust laws,” Weiser said.
The proposed merger, announced in October and expected to close in early 2024, received approval from the boards of both Kroger and Albertsons. Last month, both Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran testified before the Senate.
McMullen vowed he wouldn’t shutter stores or lay off frontline associates if the arrangement is finalized, but plans to work with the Federal Trade Commission to divest some stores “to a viable competitor.”