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Family Dollar Rejects Dollar General's Acquisition Attempt

Jennifer Lang

Matthews-based discount chain Family Dollar announced Thursday it's rejected a bid by rival Dollar General. Family Dollar is sticking with an earlier offer from Dollar Tree, even though that offer is $1.2 billion smaller. 

Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine says his board of directors, outside advisors and consultants are concerned that antitrust issues would prevent a deal with Dollar General from going through.

But Charlotte antitrust lawyer Mickey Aberman disagrees "because there are other discount retailers that customers of Family Dollar will go to besides Dollar General."

"There's a thing out there called Wal-Mart, which enters into the analysis," he said.

Aberman litigated one of the largest antitrust cases in the Southeast, which involved Pepsi and several soft-drink bottlers. He says a key thing the U.S. Justice Department looks for is whether customers have alternatives.

In a statement, billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he suspects Matthews-based Family Dollar is sticking with Dollar Tree in part because that deal saves a role for CEO Howard Levine.  That deal also does not include store closings, while Dollar General says it'd be willing to close 700 stores to avoid antitrust problems.

Icahn became Family Dollar's largest shareholder roughly two months ago and has been pushing for a sale.