Nevada's attorney general weighs in on Kroger-Albertsons merger
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is continuing to scrutinize the grocery merger of Kroger and Albertsons with a focus on consumer protection, he tells Axios.
Why it matters: Several states, in addition to the Federal Trade Commission, are eyeing this deal, highlighting its local and regional significance.
Catch up fast: Ford has been conducting dozens of listening sessions across his state, including one last September that FTC chair Lina Khan attended.
Of note: In the interview, Ford acknowledged upfront that at these sessions, attendees have overwhelmingly opposed the merger.
The latest: Ford says Nevada has yet to decide on whether to support or oppose the deal.
- The state could align with the FTC, or pursue another option like a settlement, he says. Nevada also has the option to sue under its consumer protection statutes, he adds.
- Ford says he could also strike a deal containing commitments for consumers, jobs and locations, which is what he did in 2019 when T-Mobile and Sprint merged.
Zoom in: In particular, Ford says he is looking at whether food deserts might be created and what the impact will be on gas stations and pharmacies involved in the sale.
- He cited an Albertsons in Pahrump, Nevada, that serves customers from as far as Amargosa Valley, about 45 miles away.
- Ford is also studying the effect on food prices and jobs.
Between the lines: As part of the merger, Kroger and Albertsons are divesting locations in the state to C&S Wholesale.
- The viability of the buyer and its commitment to jobs and locations is part of the review, Ford says.
- "History is a good teacher. Past can be prologue," he says, pointing to the failure of Haggen after it acquired locations as part of the merger of Albertsons and Safeway.
- "That's one of the worries," Ford says, adding that locations are sitting empty today due to the bankruptcy.
The other side: Both Kroger and C&S have made commitments on jobs, with the latter saying it will recognize union workers and maintain collective bargaining agreements.
The bottom line: Competition matters and it affects people's access to food, Ford says.