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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Following the news of Ahold's planned sale of 18 Tops stores to Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has raised the possibility of a federal Investigation into the sale agreement between the two chains.
"We may need to raise antitrust questions to keep in play the possibility that someone may come forward to buy all  Tops stores," Kucinich said. He asked if the local communities whose stores would be affected by the sale were prepared to pool their resources to examine the legal questions the deal might involve. "That would trigger closer scrutiny of the implications on the (regional grocery) market."
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The statement came during a meeting Kucinich, a onetime presidential candidate, organized for 20 politicians and labor leaders late last week to develop a strategy to save Tops associates' jobs and make sure the northeast Ohio supermarket business remains competitive.
No price was disclosed for the sale. The fate of the remaining Tops stores is uncertain, but it's believed that if they're not sold to other operators, they could close sometime in 2007.
The move affects 4,000 Tops employees, although it is anticipated that 1,800 workers will be employed by Giant Eagle in the acquired stores.
The Crain's business newspaper reported last week that an unidentified private equity firm was ready to buy all 46 northeast Ohio Tops.