Albertsons’ $4 billion special dividend payment remains on hold until at least early February as legal battles against the payout continue.
The grocery company announced Wednesday all of the judges on the Supreme Court for Washington state will take up the matter of whether Albertsons can proceed with the payment on Feb. 9, 2023.
Earlier this month, a state court denied Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the special dividend, but kept the temporary restraining order pausing the payment in place to give Ferguson time to ask another court to review the decision. Ferguson appealed the order to the Washington Supreme Court, the state’s highest court.
The temporary restraining order against the dividend payment will remain in effect until the state Supreme Court issues an order regarding the appeal, according to the press release. Albertsons said it has filed a motion to expedite the court’s review.
Separately, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia rejected a similar temporary restraining order request by the attorneys general of California, Illinois and Washington, D.C., Albertsons said. In November, that court had previously denied the group of attorneys’ general request for a temporary restraining order against the dividend payment.
Opponents of the dividend claim it could harm the grocer financially and impede its ability to remain competitive while the proposed Kroger-Albertsons mega-merger undergoes regulatory scrutiny.
Albertsons is maintaining its stance that the court battles over the dividend are “meritless and provide no legal basis for preventing the payment.”
“Albertsons’ position has been supported by favorable rulings in both Circuit and District courts in the District of Columbia and a Washington State court,” the grocery company said in its press release.
Private equity firm Cerebus Capital Management is Albertsons’ largest shareholder, with a 30% stake, and also controls the grocery company’s board, The New York Times recently noted.