Amazon’s Wholefoods takeover gets regulatory green light

Amazon’s Wholefoods takeover has received regulatory approval, clearing the way for the biggest retail deal of the year to proceed.

The Federal Trade Commission, charged with ensuring business acquisitions do not impact customer choice, has given the green light to the US$13.7 billion deal,  shortly after Whole Foods shareholders voted in favour of it.

The FTC said in a statement that it was satisfied the deal would not substantially lessen competition or constitute unfair competition and had opted not to continue its investigation further.

But it effectively sent a warning to the US’ largest online retailer that it “always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct” should it believe it has grounds to in the future.

GlobalData senior analyst Molly Johnson-Jones said the shareholder vote “consolidates the threat of Amazon repeating the damage on the grocery market it has ravaged on mainstream supermarket territory”. 

“Amazon is the ultimate disrupter in retail, but for a long time it has only been on the periphery for the food retailers. Amazon’s vision of being a one-stop-shop for all of a consumer’s needs is (now) one step closer to being a reality.”

Analysts did not expect the FTC to intervene given Amazon has little involvement in the retail grocery market at present, and Whole Foods’ share of that market is small.

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