Kroger, Albertsons need more time to close on $25 billion proposed merger

(Reuters) – Grocers Kroger and Albertsons said on Monday that they plan close the proposed $24.6 billion merger in the first half of Kroger’s fiscal 2024 instead of early 2024.

The merger, first announced in October 2022, has drawn the ire of U.S. lawmakers and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission due to antitrust concerns, with worries piling up that the deal would lead to higher prices for consumers, store closures and loss of jobs.

“In light of our continuing dialogue with the regulators, we are updating our anticipated closure timeline,” the companies said in a statement. In 2023, the first half of Kroger’s fiscal year ended Aug. 12.

Kroger said it will invest $500 million to reduce prices and $1.3 billion to enhance customer experience.

The companies said they remain in active and ongoing dialogue with the Federal Trade Commission and individual state attorneys general regarding their proposed merger and divestiture plan.

Kroger, which is the biggest grocer in the U.S. by revenue, proposed to divest over 400 stores and eight distribution centers to C&S Wholesale Grocers. Last year, it said that it may need to shed an additional 237 stores to gain regulatory approval.

(Reporting by Tanay Dhumal in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)