Electrolux shop in Riga
A man walks past an Electrolux shop in RigaReuters

US conglomerate General Electric said it will defend the US Justice Department's lawsuit to block the sale of GE Appliances to Sweden's Electrolux.

On 1 July, the department filed a lawsuit in the US District Court of Columbia to stop Sweden's Electrolux's deal of $3.3bn (£2.1bn, €3bn) to buy GE's appliances business, saying the deal would hurt competition.

Electrolux and GE Appliances are the biggest sellers of stoves, cooktops and ovens in the country, followed by Whirlpool. The three companies together hold 90% of the US market for stoves and ovens, the department claimed in the lawsuit.

"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," said Leslie Overton, deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department's antitrust division.

"This lawsuit also seeks to prevent a duopoly in the sale of these major cooking appliances to builders and other commercial purchasers, who often pass on price increases to home buyers or renters."

In response, GE said that it would "vigorously defend the proposed acquisition as pro-competitive and pro-consumer".

"Our goal remains to close the deal this year. GE continues to believe that GE Appliances' customers, consumers and employees will benefit from Electrolux's commitment to the appliance business and its ability to compete with global competitors," the company said in a statement.

Electrolux also disagreed with the department, with its antitrust attorney Joe Sims saying that the market is set to be competitive with LG, Samsung and others emerging as big players.

Electrolux already obtained regulatory approval in Brazil, Canada and Ecuador for the deal.