A private lawsuit filed in California on Thursday seeks to stop Kroger’s planned $25 billion purchase of rival Albertsons, a deal that state attorneys general, consumer groups and some US lawmakers have questioned as harmful to competition in the grocery market.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 25 consumers in states including California, Texas and Florida who alleged the merger “will be used to increase prices for groceries, decrease the quality of food, eliminate jobs, close stores and offer less choice for consumers.”
Kroger is the biggest grocer in the US by revenue, and Albertsons is the second-largest supermarket chain. Nearly 5,000 grocery stores would be under one corporate umbrella if the deal, announced in October, goes through.
The companies have defended the deal as providing a “more efficient distribution chain” and also have said they are working with the US Federal Trade Commission on its regulatory review. The lawsuit appears to be the first private action challenging the deal.
US antitrust law lets private consumers sue over proposed mergers and acquisitions, apart from any enforcement action brought by a state or federal agency policing competition laws.