Albertsons reportedly approved to buy core Haggen stores

The Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon reported that, according to the union representing Haggen workers, government regulators approved Albertsons' buying Haggen's 33 core stores, including the one in Oak Harbor.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Local 367 said that the Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition of the stores and that the two companies are finalizing the purchase agreement, AP reported, citing the Bellingham Herald.

Haggen declined to comment Thursday morning.

In Oak Harbor, Haggen bought the Safeway store on State Route 20 in December 2014 and converted it to the Haggen name. Virtually all Safeway employees became Haggen employees. Then Safeway in the summer of 2015 took over the Albertsons store on Southwest Erie Street.

If what is now Haggen were to become an Albertsons, the relative positions of the Safeway and the Albertsons would simply have reversed since early 2015.

An FTC approval of Albertsons' recent purchase proposal would seem to defeat that agency's earlier intentions. When Albertsons and Safeway completed their merger on Jan. 30, 2015, the chains were required to divest themselves of 168 stores -- the Oak Harbor store among them -- in order to win federal approval of their merger.

Haggen filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2015  after buying nearly 150 stores from Albertsons and Safeway. The Bellingham-based company failed to convert the stores, many of which have already been auctioned.

Also on Wednesday, the auction of Haggen's 33 core stores was postponed a fourth time, to March 18 from March 11, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. No reason was given.

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