WASHINGTON Jan 17 The U.S. Federal Trade
Commission has approved the $2.5 billion purchase of regional
grocer Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc by Kroger Co
, deciding the transaction does not violate anti-trust
law, the companies said on Friday.
The two supermarket chains said in a statement that they
expected the acquisition to be completed before the end of
January. The FTC gave its approval without requiring the
companies to divest any stores, a law firm that represented
Harris Teeter said in a statement.
The FTC was not immediately available for comment.
The deal, approved by the boards of both companies in July,
will boost Kroger's presence in the U.S. southeast. Competitors
there include privately held Publix and discounter Wal-Mart
Stores Inc, the largest U.S. food retailer.
Cincinnati-based Kroger, the largest mainstream U.S. grocer,
will also get a bigger presence in the mid-Atlantic region,
slightly more upscale stores that do a strong business in fresh
food and access to fast-growing markets.
As the supermarket industry has consolidated, chains such as
Harris Teeter, based in Matthews, North Carolina, have struggled
to maintain market share against rivals such as Wal-Mart, Costco
Wholesale Corp and Whole Foods Market Inc.
Harris Teeter currently operates 212 supermarkets in North
Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee,
Delaware, Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia.
The combined business will operate 2,631 supermarkets in 34
states and the District of Columbia, with over 368,300
employees. Harris Teeter has a non-union workforce, while Kroger
largely operates with unionized staff.