Kroger Albertsons

A bread route salesman loads bread outside the Eagle Rock Albertsons store in Los Angeles in this file photo. Albertsons and Kroger have proposed a merger, but a $4 billion dividend Albertsons wants to pay investors before it is finalized has been paused by a judge.

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SEATTLE (AP) — A judge in Washington state has temporarily blocked Albertsons from paying a $4 billion dividend to investors as part of the grocery retailer’s proposed merger with rival Kroger.

On Thursday, King County Superior Court Commissioner Henry Judson approved a motion by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to temporarily block the dividend until the court can more fully consider whether the payment violates antitrust laws, The Seattle Times reported.

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