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Justice Department Sues Over Electrolux-GE Deal

DOJ officials argued that the transaction could lead to price increases.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday in an effort to block Electrolux's purchase of General Electric's appliance business.

DOJ officials argued that the transaction would combine two top producers of stoves and ovens and could lead to price increases for homeowners, homebuilders and commercial customers.

“Electrolux’s proposed acquisition of General Electric’s appliance business would leave millions of Americans vulnerable to price increases for ranges, cooktops and wall ovens, products that serve an important role in family life and represent large purchases for many households,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leslie C. Overton said in a statement.

Swedish company AB Electrolux — which sells appliances under the Electrolux, Frigidaire and Tappan brands — announced plans last fall to purchase GE Appliances for $3.3 billion. The companies indicated that they plan to fight the antitrust lawsuit and hope to close the deal this year.

"Electrolux and GE intend to vigorously defend the proposed acquisition as pro-competitive and pro-consumer," GE said in a statement.

DOJ contends that three companies — GE, Electrolux and Whirlpool — control 90 percent of the market for major cooking appliances, but attorneys for Electrolux said LG and Samsung, among others, “have grown dramatically.”

The lawsuit coincides with ongoing concerns from European regulators about GE's acquisition of France-based Alstom's energy operations, The Wall Street Journal reported.