Thu, Jul 12th 2007 6:55am
The FTC's decision to oppose Whole Foods' acquisition of Wild Oats is the result of a misguided and myopic definition of what constitutes the relevant market. And while many expect Whole Foods to ultimately prevail, the proceedings have been unpleasant for the company's CEO, John Mackey. First it was revealed that Mackey championed the merger, in part because he believed that by taking Wild Oats out of play, it would prevent another supermarket chain from quickly becoming a Whole Foods rival. That may or may not be damning (from an antitrust perspective), but a new revelation will prove to be far more embarrassing. As part of its latest legal filing, the FTC dropped the bombshell that John Mackey had, for several years, been posting on the the Yahoo Finance message boards under a pseudonym, cheerleading his company's success and denigrating its rival, Wild Oats. He even made predictions about the company's stock price, putting out extremely high estimates for its performance. It's not clear that what he did was necessarily illegal, but his posting seems unethical and highly foolish, at the very least. If nothing else, the company's stockholders should wonder about what the boss is doing with his time.
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