The Federal Trade Commission today announced the following action. The FTC staff contact is Dan Ducore, 202-326-2526.
Commission action regarding petitions to reopen and modify FTC orders: Following a public comment period, the FTC has ruled on the following petition:
- The FTC has granted in part and denied in part a petition from Vons Companies, Inc., of Arcadia, California, to reopen and modify two consent orders so as to end the company’s obligation to obtain FTC approval before acquiring any supermarket in specified geographic areas. The FTC has partially granted Vons’ request with regard to a 1988 consent order, but has replaced the 1988 order’s prior-approval provision for acquisitions of supermarkets in Las Vegas, Nevada, or in numerous specified cities and towns in California, with a prior-notice provision for such acquisitions. The 1988 order settled charges that Vons’ acquisition of three Safeway divisions with stores in southern California and Nevada violated federal antitrust laws. The second order, issued in 1992, settled charges that Vons’ acquisition of San Luis Obispo supermarkets from a competitor -- the Williams Bros. Markets -- and its sale of an existing supermarket in San Luis Obispo for conversion to a drug store reduced market capacity and increased Vons’ market share, in violation of antitrust laws. The 1992 order requires Vons to obtain FTC approval before acquiring any supermarket in San Louis Obispo County, as well as in certain other instances for acquisitions anywhere in the United States. The FTC has denied Vons’ application to modify this order, on grounds that to do so would not be in the public interest. Vons has been attempting to acquire a supermarket in Grover Beach, San Luis Obispo County, from Smith’s Food and Drug Centers, Inc., even though the State of California has taken action to prohibit Smith’s from selling the Grover Beach supermarket to Vons. The prohibition is included in a Settlement Agreement between Smith’s and the State of California to remedy antitrust issues raised by Smith’s proposed sale of its California supermarkets to various purchasers, including Vons. Vons is attempting to compel Smith’s to transfer the Grover Beach supermarket to Smith’s, regardless of the Settlement Agreement with the State of California. Under these circumstances, the Commission has determined that it would not be appropriate to grant Vons’ petition with regard to the 1992 order. Vons may, however, refile its petition at a future date or seek FTC approval of the acquisition of Smith’s Grover Beach supermarket. (See Aug. 30, 1988 and Aug. 13, 1992 news releases for more details regarding the two consent orders; Commission vote to modify the order in Docket No. C-3233 (the 1988 matter) was 5-0; Commission vote to deny the petition to modify the order in Docket No. C-3391 (the 1992 matter) was 3-2, with Commissioners Mary L. Azcuenaga and Roscoe B. Starek, III, dissenting. In her dissenting statement, Azcuenaga said that although she was sympathetic with the concerns of the majority regarding reopening and modification of the prior-approval provision of the order, the Prior Approval Policy Statement “having been adopted by a majority of the Commission, it seems to me incumbent on the Commission either to live by it or to change it.”)
Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov