Eric Fruits on the Kroger Merger

WCPO – ICLE Senior Scholar Eric Fruits was quoted by Cincinnati television station WCPO in a story about a petition from several state attorneys general asking the Federal Trade Commission to challenge to the merger of Kroger and Albertsons. You can read full piece here.

Kroger has a 75% chance of completing the proposed merger, but it might have to fight the FTC in court to get the deal done, said Eric Fruits, an antitrust expert and senior scholar for the International Center for Law & Economics in Portland Oregon.

“For the past 25-30 years, almost every single grocery merger has been allowed to go through with these spinoffs, or what are known as divestitures,” said Fruits, a Sycamore High School graduate who recently co-authored a detailed analysis of the likely legal arguments in the case. “My guess is that’s what Kroger and Albertsons are going to offer. The real question is whether or not the Federal Trade Commission will take that offer. And if they don’t, they could go to court and the judge could say, ‘This seems like a reasonable remedy. We’ll let you spin off the stores.’”

When Kroger announced the planned merger last October, it said it hoped to complete the deal by early next year. Fruits doesn’t think that can happen if the case goes to court.

“I would think that there’s bigger fish to fry than the Kroger-Albertsons merger,” said Fruits. “But you just don’t know what sort of political pressure these federal trade commissioners are under to try to show that they’re doing something big. And this is something big that they can try to block.”