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Albertsons' Rite Aid deal clears antitrust hurdle

Albertsons Cos. Inc. appears to be one step closer to closing its purchase of Rite Aid Corp.

The retail pharmacy chain said in a March 29 statement that federal antitrust regulators had run out of time to request more information about the companies' proposed deal as of 11:59 p.m. on March 28, signaling that the U.S. government will allow the transaction to proceed.

The deal, which would form a single company worth about $24 billion, must now win approval from Rite Aid shareholders, the retailer said. Rite Aid and Albertsons announced the deal in February.

Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, federal antitrust regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, must request additional information about a deal within certain time frames. If the regulators do not make any requests before the period ends, the deal may proceed.

The Justice Department made such a request of CVS Health Corp. and Aetna Inc. in February. Federal regulators have yet to sign off on that transaction, worth about $69 billion.

Shareholders at both CVS and Aetna voted to approve the deal in mid-March.