The Federal Trade Commission has issued an administrative complaint challenging Whole Foods Market Inc.’s approximately $670 million acquisition of Wild Oats Markets Inc. The administrative complaint preserves the Commission’s legal option to pursue an administrative remedy following the federal district court proceeding. According to the complaint, the transaction would violate federal antitrust laws by eliminating the substantial competition between these two uniquely close competitors in the operation of premium natural and organic supermarkets nationwide. The FTC contends that if the transaction goes forward Whole Foods would have the ability to raise prices and reduce quality and services.
The issuance of the administrative complaint follows the filing of a similar complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on June 6, 2007. On June 7, 2007, the judge issued a temporary restraining order under which the parties may not consummate the deal until after a preliminary injunction hearing, which is scheduled for July 31 and August 1, 2007.
The FTC’s vote to issue the complaint was 5-0. The complaint is available on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release and on the Whole Foods case docket page.
NOTE: The Commission issues or files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the named parties have violated the law.
The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to email@example.com, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at http://www.ftc.gov/competitioncounts.