- Albertsons announced Tuesday it is proceeding with its $4 billion special dividend following a months long court battle on opposite ends of the coast that extended temporary restraining orders against the payment.
- On Tuesday, the Washington Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal by the state’s attorney general regarding a lower court’s ruling that would allow the dividend payout, and the temporary restraining order was subsequently lifted.
- Albertsons has prevailed against opponents to its dividend at a time when the grocery company and Kroger are under intense scrutiny for their proposed merger plan.
Nearly four months after Albertsons was originally scheduled to make the special dividend payment on Nov. 7., the grocery company said in a statement that it will “immediately” begin the process of distributing the investor payout.
Albertsons previously notched wins when a federal court in Washington, D.C., denied two attempts late last year by the attorneys general of California, Illinois and Washington, D.C., to procure a temporary restraining order against the dividend payment.
In November, Bob Ferguson, the attorney general for Washington state, filed a lawsuit in state court in an attempt to stop the payout. When the state court in December denied the request for a preliminary injunction, Ferguson appealed the order to the Washington Supreme Court, the state’s highest court.
While Albertsons has prevailed in the court battles against the dividend, the grocery company continues to face criticism of the payment.
Seven local United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) unions and Teamsters 38 of Snohomish County in Washington issued a press release Tuesday saying they are “disappointed” by the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision. The group claimed the ruling “favors a small number of ultra-wealthy shareholders over the many thousands of essential workers and millions of Americans who will be left to suffer the consequences of the outright financial looting of Albertsons.”
That group of local unions is among the opponents to the Kroger-Albertsons merger who are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to block the acquisition.
Albertsons has maintained the stance that the dividend will not weaken its ability to remain competitive as the merger undergoes regulatory review.
At the end of November, Kroger and Albertsons defended their planned merger at a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. The grocery companies have framed the merger as a way to lower food prices, drive innovation and improve the combined company’s profitability.