Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has weighed in to support a reported Federal Trade Commission probe of the proposed Subway-Roark Capital Group deal, which the companies agreed to last August.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Warren on Sunday wrote, “We don't need another private-equity deal that could lead to higher food prices for consumers.”
The senator was following up on reports at the website Politico.com and others that cited sources saying the trade commission is investigating if the purchase of Subway, estimated at around $10 billion, creates a sandwich shop monopoly with Arby’s and Jimmy John’s and other Roark-owned brands.
Atlanta-based private-equity Roark and its subsidiaries also own sandwich-oriented fast-casual McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s. Subway and Roark agreed to the deal last August.
The federal government is reportedly focused in part on whether the addition of Subway gives Roark too much control of the fast-food industry.
“The FTC is right to investigate whether the purchase of Subway by the same firm that owns Jimmy John’s and McAlister’s Deli creates a sandwich shop monopoly, Warren said in her X post, which linked to a Politico website report.
Politico had reported earlier Nov. 21 that the FTC, which is investigating the pending merger of grocery chains Kroger and Albertson’s, would have to allocate resources to investigate the Subway-Roark deal for potential monopoly concerns.
The FTC reportedly was not satisfied with a deal even with Kroger and Albertsons’ recent divestiture of more than 400 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers.
Former FTC policy director David Balto, who has been involved in several grocery merger deals with the FTC, said the deal with C&S was not enough to encourage the FTC to approve the merger, and that a similar divestiture deal with a closer competitor like Ahold Delhaize would have made a stronger impression.
In an exclusive interview with Nation’s Restaurant News’ sibling publication Supermarket News, Balto said the FTC will likely take Kroger and Albertsons to court over the C&S deal.
Mergers valued at more than $111.4 million generally undergo a mandatory 30-day review by either the FTC or U.S. Justice Department. Any probe beyond that time period is discretionary.
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