Safeway shareholders voted overwhelmingly at the chain’s annual meeting Friday to approve the merger with Albertsons.

The transaction, announced in March, is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.

Meeting at the chain’s headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif., shareholders approved and adopted the proposal for AB Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, to acquire Safeway. According to Safeway, 70% of the outstanding shares and 96% of the shares voted were in favor of the merger.

Shareholders also approved a non-binding advisory proposal to approve a merger-related compensation plan for Safeway’s top-level executive officers; and they voted down two other measures, in line with recommendations by the board of directors: 90% said no to a proposal to label products containing genetically modified ingredients, and 88% voted against extending producer responsibility.

Pending any divestitures that might be required by the Federal Trade Commission, the merger with Safeway would leave Albertsons with close to 2,400 stores, including approximately 1,300 from Safeway, with total sales approaching $60 billion.