(CN) - Supermarket operators Albertsons and Safeway Inc. have agreed to sell 168 supermarkets to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their proposed $9.2 billion merger would likely be anticompetitive in scores of markets in the western United States.
The agency's complaint describes the two supermarket chains as vigorous competitors, and that without some kind of remedy that competition would evaporate and to the detriment of consumers in 130 local markets in Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
At the time the proposed merger was announced, Albertson LLC's operated 630 supermarkets under its own name in 15 states, and under the Market Street, Amigos, and United Supermarkets name in Texas.
In addition, New Albertson's, Inc., a related entity, operated 445 supermarkets under the Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw's, and Star Market names in the eastern United States.
Safeway, meanwhile, operated 1,332 supermarkets under the Safeway, Tom Thumb, Randall's, Pak 'n Save, The Market, Vons, Pavilions, and Genuardi's names throughout the country.
Under the proposed settlement, Haggen Holdings, LLC will acquire 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores located in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington; Supervalu Inc. will acquire two Albertsons stores in Washington; Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. will acquire 12 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Texas; and Associated Food Stores Inc. will acquire eight Albertsons and Safeway stores in Montana and Wyoming.
The agency said it expects Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. to assign its operating rights in the 12 Texas stores it is acquiring to RLS Supermarkets, LLC (doing business as Minyard Food Stores) and that Associated Food Stores Inc. will assign its rights in the eight Montana and Wyoming stores it is acquiring to Missoula Fresh Market LLC, Ridley's Family Markets, Inc., and Stokes Inc.
Also under the proposed settlement, the divestitures to Haggen must be completed within 150 days of the date of the merger; the divestitures to Supervalu Inc. must be completed within 100 days of the date of the merger; and the divestitures to Associated Food Stores Inc. and Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. must be completed within 60 days of the date of the merger.
The proposed settlement also appoints a monitor to oversee the merging parties' compliance with their obligations under the agreement.
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