FTC approves Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market
24 August 2017
Amazon.com Inc's proposed $13.7-billion purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc won quick US antitrust approval, showing that concerns in Washington about the increasing power of technology companies made no difference to the online retailer's biggest-ever acquisition.
The approval by the US Federal Trade Commission within a 30-day review period did not require in-depth investigation as it was determined that the tie-up would not hurt competition, according to the agency.
The deal was struck even as concerns mounted that technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are becoming too dominant.
A Democratic lawmaker had demanded a more thorough review of the proposed the merger.
According to Norm Armstrong, an antitrust lawyer as King & Spalding LLP in Washington, the deal was approved by FTC as Amazon and Whole Foods are not close competitors and shoppers will get any other options to buy groceries.
"When you combine the two, the question is whether it will substantially lessen competition or have an anti-competitive effect on the marketplace," said Armstrong, a former deputy director of the FTC bureau that reviews mergers. "The answer is no."
Whole Foods shareholders approved the takeover yesterday but it requires approval from Canadian regulators.
The deal comes even as there is a growing feeling that the antitrust law is antiquated and ill-prepared to address the dynamics of a modern and fast-changing corporate landscape, which is giving rise to giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Bruce Hoffman, an acting director at the FTC said in a statement that the agency looked at the ''proposed acquisition to determine whether it substantially lessened competition.'' He added that the FTC ''decided not to pursue this matter further.''
This comes as one of the first big actions by the FTC since the election of President Trump.