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Albertsons’ $4 billion payout to shareholders is delayed … again

Nov. 18, 2022 Updated Fri., Nov. 18, 2022 at 9:41 p.m.

By Shaun Goodwin Idaho Statesman

A court order temporarily blocking Albertsons from making a $4 billion special dividend payment to shareholders has been extended again.

The temporary restraining order was initially placed on the company on Nov. 3 to prevent it from making the payment while state and federal antitrust regulators reviewed Albertsons $24.6 billion merger with retail giant Kroger.

Originally supposed to last until Nov. 10, the order was extended to Nov. 17 and has been extended again to Dec. 9.

The restraining order will expire following a hearing to consider the merits of a lawsuit against Albertsons and Kroger filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. But that hearing keeps getting pushed back.

Part of the merger between Albertsons and Kroger included a payout of $6.85 per share to Albertsons shareholders by Monday, Nov. 7. Ferguson argues that the payout would “weaken Albertsons’ ability to continue business operations and compete.”

“Albertsons Cos. continues to believe that the claim brought by the State of Washington is meritless and provides no legal basis for canceling or postponing a dividend that has been duly and unanimously approved by Albertsons Cos.’ fully informed Board of Directors,” Albertsons said in a statement on Wednesday.

Albertsons has sold stock publicly since June 2020 but remains controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private equity firm that leads a group of investment companies that first acquired part of the former Albertsons Inc. in 2006. Cerberus still holds roughly 30% of Albertsons’ shares and would collect a large share of the special dividend.

Albertsons is Idaho’s largest company and a Boise icon, with 290,000 employees nationwide and more than 5,000 employees in Idaho, McClatchy News previously reported.

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