FTC Clears Kroger to Buy Las Vegas Raley's Stores

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday it would not challenge Kroger Co.'s acquisition of 18 Raley's Corp. supermarkets in Las Vegas.

The FTC said it had dropped an investigation into the deal after concluding that it was not likely to hamper competition among supermarkets in the Las Vegas area.

"Rather, consumers in this market have benefited and are expected to continue to benefit from rivalry among at least the four remaining major competitors, including Wal-Mart," the FTC said in a statement.

Kroger said in a statement that it expected to complete the acquisition on Friday. It said the Raley's stores will be renamed under Kroger's "Smith's" and "Food 4 Less" banners later this month.

In 1999, competition concerns prompted the FTC to require Albertson's Inc. to sell off 144 supermarkets as a condition for approving its acquisition of American Stores Co. As part of that agreement, Albertsons sold 19 stores and one site in Las Vegas to California-based Raley's.

However, the FTC said it is not as concerned about the latest Kroger acquisitions. Since 1999, the agency said, competition among supermarkets in Las Vegas has escalated with the entry of Wal-Mart and other new competitors.
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