Federal antitrust regulators have cleared the $2.5 billion sale of the Harris Teeter supermarket chain to industry giant Kroger.

The two companies said in written statements that they expect to finalize the deal by the end of the month.

The Federal Trade Commission did not require the sale of any stores in approving the acquisition.

Matthews, N.C.-based Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. and Kroger Co, announced their $49.38 per-share merger in July.

Harris Teeter is a regional grocery chain with locations throughout the Charleston region. It employs about 26,000 workers at 212 supermarkets in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and Washington, D.C.

The stores will continue to operate under the Harris Teeter name.

The North Carolina chain beefed up its local presence last year by acquiring seven locations in the Charleston area from Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. Inc. Earlier this month, Harris Teeter opened a newly built store in the Corner at Wescott shopping center on Dorchester Road, along the busy North Charleston-Summerville corridor.

Ohio-based Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, has 343,000 workers in 31 states. It has no operations in the Charleston region.