Fri, Aug 17th 2007 12:16pm
When the FTC stepped in to block the merger between Whole Foods and Wild Oats, it seemed like an obvious case of a market being defined too narrowly. Yes, both companies place a similar emphasis on organic foods, but organic foods represent a small slice of the overall food market, and there's no question that organic and conventional foods are substitute goods. The whole situation was roughly analogous to the situation facing XM and Sirius in their attempt to merge, as the NAB would like the FCC to define the market as simply satellite radio, while in fact it's clearly much broader. It looks like the FTC's argument has been thoroughly rejected as a federal judge declared that the merger should not be blocked. The judge's ruling remains sealed, so his exact rationale isn't known, but it sounds like this could be a useful precedent in other cases going forward.
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