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Democratic US Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the ranking member of a key Senate panel, joined her Republican counterpart in announcing hearings on the proposed purchase of Boise’s Albertsons Companies by Kroger.
Klobuchar echoed earlier comments by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who had already signaled unease with the deal last week, in announcing hearings on the deal.
“As the chair and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, we have serious concerns about the proposed transaction between Kroger and Albertsons,” Klobuchar & Lee said in a statement. “The grocery industry is essential, and we must ensure that it remains competitive so that American families can afford to put food on the table. We will hold a hearing focused on this proposed merger and the consequences consumers may face if this deal moves forward.”
A number of senators are coming out against the deal. Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont urged the Biden Administration to block the merger last week. Klobuchar and fellow Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey wrote to the Federal Trade Commission’s chair asking for an investigation on grounds it “raises considerable antitrust concerns,” according to CNN.
The timing of the senate hearings had been not announced as of late Wednesday.
In a statement to CNBC, Kroger said they welcome congressional hearings, and repeated talking points they stated in the merger announcement.
BoiseDev reached out to Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Sen. Jim Risch for comment on the acquisition. A response was not available by the deadline for this story.
“We welcome the opportunity to outline how this transaction will benefit America’s consumers by expanding access to fresh, affordable food,” a Kroger spokesperson told CNBC.
While Kroger and Albertsons are the number one and number two supermarket chains, they would still have a smaller share of overall grocery sales in the US, behind Walmart. Walmart is not ranked as a supermarket chain, as it also sells general merchandise.