FTC Scrutinizes Wal-Mart in Puerto Rico

Mar 29, 2002

According to The Daily Deal, The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s February 6 acquisition of Puerto Rico’s largest grocer amid concerns that it could lead to higher food prices on the island. Retailers have presented the FTC with studies and other documents showing that Wal-Mart-owned Sam’s Club competes head-to-head with the grocery chains.

The agency had been prepared to issue a second request for more details on the deal, but Wal-Mart decided to refile its Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act notice instead. This gives the FTC another 30 days to decide whether the transaction deserves further scrutiny.

The merger could clarify whether the FTC, under Chairman Timothy J. Muris, believes regulators should include members-only warehouse stores, such as Sam’s Club, in the market definition for supermarket deals. Muris has been reported to be sympathetic to broadening the definition of supermarkets.

Moderator Comment: What would be the impact of an
FTC decision to include supermarkets and club stores within the same competitive

The reality of the consumer marketplace is that any business
that seeks a share of food dollar expenditures is competition for supermarkets.
From an anti-trust standpoint, the FTC should change its classification criteria
from supermarkets to food retailers. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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