Whole Foods, FTC agree on Wild Oats settlement

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Whole Foods Market Inc. said Friday it will
sell 13 stores to resolve the Federal Trade Commission's challenge
against the grocer over its $565 million purchase of Wild Oats
Markets.

Whole Foods is putting 12 Wild Oats stores and one Whole Foods
store up for sale. The stores are located in Arizona, Colorado,
Connecticut, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.

The Austin, Texas-based company will also sell leases and assets
for 19 Wild Oats stores that have already been closed.

In a statement, Whole Foods Chief Executive John Mackey said it
will be "business as usual" in the 13 operating stores.

Federal regulators had challenged Whole Foods' 2007 acquisition
of Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats, worrying the deal would create a
natural-food monopoly.

Whole Foods sued the FTC in December, claiming the regulator
violated its due process rights in the dispute. Whole Foods then
refiled the case in January in the U.S. District Court of Appeals
in Washington to get an expedited decision. The court later denied
that motion.

At the time, Whole Foods said it was considering refiling the
case or reframing its request for relief.

Once it gets approval from the FTC, expected before April 30,
Whole Foods plans to take a noncash charge of no more than $19
million for the sale of the stores, which recorded sales of $31
million in the fiscal first quarter of 2009.

The FTC could not be immediately reached for comment.

Shares of Whole Foods gained 27 cents to $12.05 in morning
trading.


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