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The Colorado Sun reports that during a recent visit to Denver where she attended a listening session focused on the proposed $24.6 billion Kroger acquisition of Albertsons, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan head only opposition to the deal.

According to the story, "Khan joined Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on his listening tour around the state to hear from Coloradans about the proposed merger of the nation’s two largest grocery chains. Kroger operates about 150 grocery stores in Colorado, while Albertsons has 105 under the Albertsons and Safeway brands. The audience — largely union members who work at grocery stores and food suppliers — overwhelmingly were opposed. 

"But Khan wasn’t there to stop the merger. She does, however, have to make a big decision that could impact which way this goes.

"'For us at the FTC, we don’t get to just do a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the merger,' Khan said. 'If we do, in fact, determine that this merger would violate the antitrust laws, we would have to file a complaint in federal court. It’s ultimately a judge who would decide whether our challenge is successful or not'."

The Sun writes that "near the end of an hourlong listening session Wednesday on the proposed merger of King Soopers’ parent Kroger Co. and Albertsons, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan spoke.

"'Is there anybody here who supports the merger and wants to share any reasons for it?' she asked. The audience packed in a large room at the Mi Casa Resource Center in Denver burst out laughing.

"No takers."

KC's View:

In scenarios like these, the objections always are going to be louder than the endorsements.  I think listening tours are important, but I suspect they will not have outsized weight in the FTC deliberations.