Whole Foods Market has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission resolving charges that its $565 million acquisition of Wild Oats Markets had violated antitrust law. The FTC had opposed the deal between Whole Foods and Wild Oats on antitrust grounds. The government’s lawyers argued that Whole Foods and Wild Oats compete in a specific market of natural and organic food and that the combined company would raise prices and stifle competition. The FTC said the settlement restores competition in the premium and organic foods market. Whole Foods must sell 32 of its supermarkets and related assets, including 12 Wild Oats stores, one Whole Foods store, and the leases for 19 Wild Oats stores that have already been closed. It must also divest intellectual property relating to Wild Oats, including the branding rights.
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