An Albertsons supermarket is shown in a Mountain View, Calif. file photo from May 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
An Albertsons supermarket is shown in a Mountain View, Calif. file photo from May 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
An Albertsons supermarket is shown in a Mountain View, Calif. file photo from May 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Supermarket chain Albertsons says U.S. regulators have approved its purchase of competitor Safeway Inc.

The companies said Tuesday the deal has been cleared by the Federal Trade Commission and should close within five business days.

Albertsons, which privately held and part-owned by Cerberus Capital Management, agreed to buy Safeway in March for $7.64 billion in cash. The FTC said the sale would hurt consumers in 130 markets by reducing competition, and in December the companies said they would sell 168 stores in eight states.

Most of the stores will be bought by Haggen, a chain based in the Northwest. Haggen will expand to 164 locations from 18.

Excluding the stores that are being sold, Safeway had about 1,300 locations under names including Safeway, Tom Thumb and Carrs. Albertsons had about 1,100 stores under its own name as well as Acme, Jewel-Osco, and others. The companies have about 250,000 employees combined.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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