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Puerto Rico Challenges Wal-mart Acquisition

| Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 1, 2002 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

A broad coalition has coalesced in Puerto Rico to block an attempt by Wal-Mart to buy Supermercados Amigo, the island’s largest supermarket chain. The deal would give the retailer, which already has $1.16 billion in sales at 19 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, a 40 percent share of Puerto Rico’s grocery sales.

“Before, we were fighting this alone; and now, there is a united front to fight this octopus that has come to cover the island,” Ricardo Calero, president of the 18,000-member United Retailers Association of Puerto Rico, told the Orlando Sentinel.

In rare agreement, legislators from Puerto Rico’s three major parties rapidly moved to investigate the deal, passing a resolution that calls for a 30-day probe. The resolution notes that the acquisition would severely reduce competition on the island and cites Wal-Mart’s anti-labor policies and studies that show it destroys small businesses and jobs.

Meanwhile, several grocers have filed suit in superior court in San Juan to block the purchase on antitrust grounds.

Also providing a temporary delay is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which must approve the acquisition. The FTC insists that Wal-Mart sell a few of Supermercados Amigo’s 38 stores to preserve local competition. But Wal-Mart has yet to find a buyer suitable to the FTC, which would prefer they be taken over by another large chain. Beyond Supermercados Amigo, Puerto Rico really has no supermarket chains.

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About Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise.  She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also produces a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin.  Connect with her on twitter and catch her TEDx Talk: Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy. More

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