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CHICAGO — Owners of Mariano’s and Jewel Osco announced plans to merge— a deal that would bring together the nation’s two largest grocers.

Cincinnati-based Kroger and owner of Mariano’s, bid $20 billion to buy Albertsons which owns Chicago suburb-based Jewel Osco.

Kroger owns nearly 3000 stores nationwide and Albertsons owns more than 2000 stores with both companies collectively employing more than 700 thousand people across the country.

The merger would give Kroger control of 13 percent of the grocer market, still a distant second to Walmart which controls 22 percent of the market.

Kroger and Albertsons say this will help them better compete against Walmart, Amazon and other retailers getting into the business of selling food.

Kroger says cost savings from a merger will lead to lower prices, yet antitrust regulators will likely scrutinize such a deal with soaring food prices due to inflation.

If approved, the merger would go through in 2024.