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Why is it legal to buy companies the purchaser has no intention of keeping in business?

Shoppers grocery chain is shutting down several stores in Maryland. Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun
Shoppers grocery chain is shutting down several stores in Maryland. Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

The purchase of the Shoppers chain by a company that had no intention of running a retail grocery business renews a question that has often puzzled me. Why is that even legal (“Shoppers grocery closing will hurt many,” Dec. 20)? State governments grant corporate charters to entities with explicitly defined purposes. It makes no sense to allow those entities to be purchased by others with totally different and frequently incompatible purposes. That violates the basis on which the company was allowed to exist and acquire the assets that have made it a target of the purchaser.

In the past three decades, countless companies have been bought up by others that had no intention of maintaining their business operations and many thousands, perhaps millions, of jobs have been lost as a result of those takeovers, while communities across the country lost access to goods and services that helped them thrive. Either the laws governing corporations are ridiculously inadequate or those responsible for enforcing them have not been doing their jobs.

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A corporate charter ought to be treated as a privilege that comes with strict responsibilities, not as a license to snatch everything in sight.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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