Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc, Kroger Co say US FTC gives approval to deal

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 18, 2014 03:12 PM EST

Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc and Kroger Co said that the $2.5 billion acquisition of the regional grocer by Kroger Co has been approved by the US Federal Trade Commission, Reuters reported. The companies said that the approval signified that the deal was not a violation of anti-trust law.

In a statement, Harris Teeter and Kroger said they expect the deal to be closed before the end of this month. According to a law firm representing Harris Teeter, the regulator gave its stamp of approval without asking the supermarket chains to sell any of their stores, the report said.

In July, the boards of the two firms approved the deal which is expected to bolster the footprint of Kroger in the southeastern portion of the US. Its competitors in the region include Publix, a privately-held grocer and the biggest food retailer in the US, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the report said.

Based in Cincinnati, Kroger is the biggest mainstream US supermarket chain. The acquisition will also enable the grocer to boost its presence in the mid-Atlantic, have slightly more upscale stores focused on doing robust business in the fresh food segment and allow it to have access to rapidly-growing markets, the report said.

Reuters reported that with the consolidation happening in the supermarket industry, chains like Matthews, North Carolina-based Harris Teeter has been having difficulty retaining its share in the market against larger peers like Wal-Mart, Costco Wholesale Corp and Whole Foods Market Inc.

Harris Teeter has 212 supermarkets spread out in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee and the District of Columbia, the report said.

The merger will form a business that will have a presence in 34 states and the District of Columbia, operating a total of 2,631 supermarkets. The consolidated business will have a workforce of more than 368,300 employees. The workforce of Harris Teeter is non-union while the staff at Kroger is primarily unionized, Reuters reported.

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