FTC Greenlights Amazon's $13.7 Billion Whole Foods Deal

25 August, 2017, 01:50 | Author: Franklin Nunez
  • Foods Market in San Antonio. Whole Foods shareholders voted Wednesday Aug. 23 2017 to bless a $13.7 billion union with Amazon that the organic grocery chain's CEO had called

The FTC approved the deal because Amazon and Whole Foods are not close competitors and shoppers will have plenty of other options to buy groceries, said Norm Armstrong, an antitrust lawyer at King & Spalding LLP in Washington. Namely, Whole Foods Market will soon have Amazon Prime integrated in their point-of-sale systems, enabling Prime customers to get in-store benefits and discounts.

"We're determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone", Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said in a press release. A Morgan Stanley survey shows about 62% of Whole Foods shoppers are members of Amazon's Prime service, opening the door for cross-selling to entice customers who shop at both to spend more. The grocery chain, which has fought the "Whole Paycheck" reputation, had been under shareholder pressure to improve results as customers moved on and discount chains like Lidl and Aldi expanded in the U.S.

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Thursday's announcement is also notable because Amazon has been mostly mum about what it plans to do with Whole Foods, with many left to speculate over what a tie-up of the two companies would look like.

For example, bananas can cost 99 cents a pound at Whole Foods versus 49 cents at Wal-Mart.

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The US Federal Trade Commission, in clearing the planned acquisition, said in a statement that it opted not to pursue its investigation further after reviewing whether the deal would substantially lessen competition or constituted an unfair method of competition.

- Whole Foods-brand products will now be available through Amazon.com and other Prime platforms, such as Prime Now, the same-day delivery service available in some markets.

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Amazon says there'll be immediate price cuts on many grocery staples including vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and eggs. John Mackey will stay on as chief executive and the Whole Foods headquarters will remain in Austin, TX. Customers can use the lockers to have products shipped from Amazon.com to their local Whole Foods Market for pickup or returns. Actual results could differ materially from those projected or forecast in the forward-looking statements.

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