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WA Supreme Court clears way for Albertsons’ $4 billion dividend

Paul-Robert

The Washington State Supreme Court has swept aside the final legal hurdle to a $4 billion dividend from Albertson to its shareholders ahead of a controversial ruling proposed merger with rival Kroger.

On Tuesday, the state’s highest court declined to consider a case against the dividend brought by state attorney general Bob Ferguson. Ferguson had argued that the high payment could weaken Albertsons financially and lead to the closure of Albertsons and Safeway locations, which Albertsons owns.

In a terse two-page ruling, however, the court declined to review the case or extend a temporary restraining order blocking the dividend.

Albertsons wants to pay the dividend to shareholders ahead of its proposed $25 billion merger with Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer.

“We respect the court’s decision, but we are surprised and disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear this case,” Ferguson said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Ferguson’s case was the latest dividend hurdle after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed similar efforts from California, Illinois and the United States. District of Colombia.

In a statement Tuesday, Albertsons said it would “immediately begin the payment process” for the $4 billion dividend.

Grocery store closures have been a major concern in the Seattle area, where Albertsons and Kroger have nearly 200 locations. Both Kroger and Albertsons have repeatedly rejected this argument.

Grocery unions also expressed dismay at Tuesday’s decision.

“We are disappointed to see a decision that favors a small number of ultra-wealthy shareholders at the expense of the thousands of essential workers and millions of Americans who will suffer the consequences of Albertsons’ outright financial plunder,” it read. in a joint statement. by several grocery unions, including United Food and Commercial Workers International, Local 3000, which represents workers at Seattle-area Albertsons and Kroger stores.

Tuesday’s decision does not affect the months-long approval process for the proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger, which may be blocked by federal and state regulators, Ferguson said.

“This merger is far from complete,” he said. “My team and I will conduct a thorough review.”

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