Judge Slaps Down FTC's Attempt To Block Whole Foods/Wild Oats Deal

from the buh-zing! dept

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.

Filed Under: antitrust, ftc
Companies: whole foods, wild oats


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2007 @ 2:41pm

    It's not a monopoly

    To those who think that this somehow creates a monopoly, food (and the subset organic food) are available from other sources, and plenty of them. Thousands and thousands of them. If you think your only choices are one of those two national chains, you aren't looking very hard.

    If Shell stations decided to brand themselves as a performance-gasoline supplier and started selling only 92 octane gas (and was the only chain that made that choice), that wouldn't be a monopoly any more than this is.

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