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The Amazon-Whole Foods merger just cleared a big hurdle

The Amazon-Whole Foods merger just cleared a big hurdle
Whole Foods Market in Charlotte, N.C. [Photo: courtesy of Whole Foods]

The feds are shrugging their shoulders over Amazon’s proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market. The Federal Trade Commission said today it has no plans to stand in the Seattle behemoth’s way, as the merger poses no apparent violation of federal antitrust laws.

Here’s the statement from Bruce Hoffman, acting director of the FTC’s competition bureau:

“The FTC conducted an investigation of this proposed acquisition to determine whether it substantially lessened competition under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, or constituted an unfair method of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act. Based on our investigation we have decided not to pursue this matter further. Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted.”

The investigation didn’t take very long. Reuters reported only a month ago that regulators at the FTC were investigating the proposed transaction over worries that it would hurt competition in the grocery market. Some lawmakers, including Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, have expressed concern that the merger could negatively impact access to grocery stores in poor neighborhoods where healthy choices are already harder to come by.CZ