The Federal Trade Commission has determined to shorten the public comment period on an application from Koninklijke Ahold NV, of The Netherlands, and Ahold USA, Inc., based in Atlanta, Georgia, to divest four Edwards supermarkets in Connecticut to Bozzuto’s, Inc., a wholesaler and supermarket operator based in Cheshire, Connecticut. Comments must be received by Nov. 8 (rather than by Nov. 29, as was announced last week).
The stores to be divested are located at 207 Hartford Turnpike in Vernon; Newbrite Plaza, 60 East Main Street in New Britain; 333 North Main Street in West Hartford; and 750 Queen Street in Southington. Divestiture of these and 24 other stores is required under a July 1996 consent order designed to restore supermarket competition that allegedly was injured in 14 communities in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts following Ahold’s acquisition of The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc. When the Commission accepted the consent order for a 60- day public comment period in July, it announced the proposed divestitures to Bozzuto’s as one of four divestiture packages to satisfy the divestiture obligations. The FTC has determined that, because the proposed divestiture to Bozzuto’s already has been subject to that 60-day public comment period, the purposes of the July order -- to restore supermarket competition in the four Connecticut cities -- would be better achieved if the transaction were completed as soon as possible.
The Commission vote to shorten the comment period was 4-1 with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga dissenting. In her dissenting statement, Commissioner Azcuenaga said, "Although there may be reason to shorten the comment period, no effort has been made to analyze the oral request for expedition under the Commission’s rules and in accordance with a standard that would apply in other cases. The desirability of giving some meaningful notice to prospective commentors and the value of maintaining at least some degree of orderliness in the Commission’s law enforcement process weigh against shortening the period."
Comments on the Ahold application should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, at the same address; 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
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161 or 202-326-2180
Bureau of Competition
(FTC Docket No. C-3687)