BOISE, Idaho -- The stage is set for a new No. 1 in the food industry Albertson's, based here, is poised to replace Kroger Co., Cincinnati, as the nation's top-volume chain. Last week Albertson's announced a definitive merger agreement with American Stores Co., Salt Lake City, for $11.7 billion, including $3.4 billion of debt. The combined company, which would be called Albertson's, would operate 2,474 stores in 37 states with pro forma 1998 estimated sales of approximately $36 billion. ...

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