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Ahold Gets FTC Approval to Buy Bruno's Supermarkets

NEW YORK - Dutch supermarkets group Koninklijke Ahold NV was given approval from the Federal Trade Commission on Friday to buy Bruno's Supermarkets Inc., but the company was told it must close two of its own regional groceries stores in two Georgia towns, Reuters reports.

Ahold announced on Sept. 4 that it planned to acquire Bruno's, a regional supermarket chain with about 169 stores in the southeastern United States, for about $500 million, the FTC said.

Under a proposed consent order approved by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Ahold would have to divest two of its BI-LO supermarkets in Georgia -- one in Milledgeville and one in Sandersville -- prior to completing its purchase of Bruno's outstanding stock. The FTC said Ahold will sell its Milledgeville BI-LO store to Kroger Co. and its Sandersville store to Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.

"The consent order approved by the commission ensures that competition will be maintained in these two areas," Joe Simons, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.

"The merger would reduce the number of major supermarket competitors in Milledgeville and Sandersville, which already have high concentration," Simons said.

According to the FTC's complaint, Ahold's purchase of Bruno's would violate regulations by "substantially reducing competition" in the retail sale of food and grocery items in supermarkets in or near the two towns.
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