WASHINGTON — Whole Foods Market yesterday offered to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust investigation of its 2007 acquisition of Wild Oats Markets. The terms of the company’s proposal were not disclosed. The FTC suspended its administrative case against the retailer for five days to allow the two sides to discuss a possible settlement.
In an interview with SN, Dave Wales, head of the Bureau of Competition at the FTC, declined to discuss the contents of Whole Foods’ proposal, but said the Commission was “looking for meaningful relief” from Whole Foods. “We are going to devote our resources to see whether a settlement is possible here,” he said. “And if it’s not possible, if the five days go by with no settlement, we are going to be right back before the District Court and right back before the commission with the [administrative case].”
In a prepared statement, Whole Foods said it “welcomed this opportunity to hold constructive discussions directly with the Commissioners as well as the FTC’s attorneys.”
Andrew Wolf, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets, Richmond, Va., said he believes Whole Foods could agree to sell a limited number of locations. “It’s in everyone’s interest to settle,” he said.
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