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FTC Lets Amazon Deal To Buy Whole Foods Move Forward

Spencer Selvidge

The Federal Trade Commission has cleared the way for Amazon to buy Whole Foods. The decision came just hours after shareholders of the Austin-based grocery chain approved the sale.

Bruce Hoffman, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement that the agency found no reason for the deal not to move forward.

The FTC conducted an investigation of this proposed acquisition to determine whether it substantially lessened competition under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, or constituted an unfair method of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act. Based on our investigation we have decided not to pursue this matter further. Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted.

University of Texas law professor Abe Wickelgren said earlier the deal was unlikely to raise any red flags because the two companies lack horizontal overlap, meaning they don’t sell the same stuff to the same customers.

"Since it doesn’t seem to be a merger of competitors, I think there’s a lot less to worry about,” he said.

The deal was announced in June, with Amazon agreeing to buy Whole Foods at $42 a share. The nearly $14 billion deal should close before the end of the year.

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Abe Wickelgren.

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