WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil antitrust lawsuit last week to block Electrolux’s proposed $3.3 billion purchase of GE Appliances.
The department’s Antitrust Division argued that the acquisition would eliminate competition, which has benefited U.S. consumers through lower prices and more options.
The merger, argued Assistant Attorney General Leslie Overton, “would leave millions of Americans vulnerable to price increases” for ranges, cooktops and wall ovens.
The lawsuit also seeks to prevent a duopoly within the builders and commercial appliance channels, which “often pass on prices increases to home buyers or renters,” Overton said.
The acquisition, announced last September, was expected to pass regulatory muster based on DOJ’s approval of Whirlpool’s 2006 purchase of Maytag.
In an interview with TWICE last year, Electrolux president/CEO Keith McLoughlin also pointed to increased competition from LG and Samsung, and noted that GE’s and Electrolux’s combined U.S. market share would be comparable to that of Whirlpool’s.
McLoughlin reiterated those points in a statement: “The appliances industry is more competitive than ever,” he observed. “We believe this acquisition accelerates consumer innovation, which improves the industry as a whole and results in more consumer choice than ever.”
Electrolux said it still expects the sale to close this year.