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    Kmart Deal Raises Antitrust Scrutiny

    Ranking members of Senate panel urge regulators to examine giant merger for consumer protection.

    WASHINGTON -- Two U.S. senators urged antitrust authorities Wednesday to look closely at Kmart Holding Corp.'s $10.85 billion plan to buy rival retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co.

    Ohio Republican Mike DeWine and Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl said the combination would impact millions of consumers across the nation who shop daily at the two chains.

    "We expect that the antitrust agencies will examine closely the merger announced today... a combination that will create the nation's third-largest retail chain," said DeWine and Kohl in a joint statement.

    DeWine is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. Kohl is the ranking Democrat on that panel.

    Although the committee oversees the government's two antitrust agencies, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, it has no direct role in approving mergers.

    "We will monitor this situation carefully to ensure that consumers do not suffer a significant loss of competitive choices as a result of this deal," the senators said.

    The merger of Kmart and Sears, announced Wednesday morning, will create the third-largest retailer in the country.

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