A federal appeals court in San Francisco has overturned a preliminary injunction barring Salt Lake-based American Stores Co. from combining its 216 Alpha Beta and 336 Lucky supermarkets in California.

A spokesman for American Stores said the supermarkets would be combined after approval is received from the Federal Trade Commission to proceed with its acquisition of Lucky Stores Inc.That merger was undertaken last September, but American was stalled from combining the Lucky operations when a federal court in Los Angeles sided with the California attorney general, who filed suit claiming that the merger would lessen competition and create $400 million a year in higher grocery prices for California consumers.

The attorney general's office said it would seek a reversal of the appeals court decision.