FTC clears Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition

The biggest retail deal of 2017 has just been cleared by the Federal Trade Commission.

On Wednesday morning, shareholders of Whole Foods Market voted to approve the natural grocer's $13.7 billion acquisition by Amazon. In the late afternoon, the FTC gave the green light to the deal.

In a statement, the FTC said it had reviewed whether the deal would substantially lessen competition or constituted an unfair method of competition and had opted not to pursue its investigation further. In closing its antitrust review, the FTC noted it "always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted."

The deal is now expected to be finalized by the end of 2017.

"Amazon is the ultimate disruptor in retail, but for a long time it has only been on the periphery for the food retailers," commented Molly Johnson-Jones, senior analyst at GlobalData. “The shareholder vote today consolidates the threat of Amazon repeating the damage on the grocery market it has ravaged on mainstream supermarket territory. Amazon’s vision of being a one-stop-shop for all of a consumer’s needs is one step closer to being a reality.”

While there were some vocal critics of the deal, saying it would, among other things, lead to job losses, antitrust experts had said the deal likely would win government approval because Amazon sells few groceries and Whole Foods makes up a small fraction of grocery sales, according to Reuters.

Amazon announced its intention to purchase Whole Foods in an all cash transaction valued at $13.7 billion, or $42 a share, in June. 

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