USA: FTC May Block Kroger Purchase
The Federal Trade Commission voted Friday to seek an injunction to stop Kroger Co. from buying 74 Winn-Dixie supermarkets in Texas and Oklahoma.The commission said it was concerned the deal would give Kroger too large a market share in Fort Worth and several smaller cities in Texas.After its 5-0 vote, the FTC said it would direct its lawyers to file a complaint in federal court in Dallas to block the sale.Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, announced in November it had agreed to buy 69 Winn-Dixie stores in Texas and five in Oklahoma. The companies did not disclose the sales price. Kroger said it would convert the stores to its own name."We are disappointed with the FTC's decision, and we intend to explore our legal alternatives," said Gary Rhodes, a Kroger spokesman. A Winn-Dixie spokesman made a similar comment.Kroger, with more than 2,300 stores under various names, had sales last year of more than $45 billion. Winn-Dixie, whose headquarters are in Jacksonville, Fla., operates about 1,200 stores and had sales last year of about $14 billion, including $745 million from the subsidiary that operates its Texas and Oklahoma stores.Winn-Dixie, however, has struggled with declining profits. Last month, the company said it would close about 10 percent of its stores and lay off 11,000 workers in a move that it said would save $245 million a year.In trading Friday, Kroger shares fell $1.125 to $19.063, and Winn-Dixie shares fell 18.7 cents to $15.813.
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