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Whole Foods wraps up purchase of Wild Oats

August 28, 2007|From the Associated Press

Whole Foods Market Inc. said Monday that it had bought smaller rival Wild Oats Markets Inc. after months of delays as U.S. antitrust authorities sought to block the $565-million deal.

The acquisition extends Whole Foods' dominance in the expanding natural and organic grocery market and brings one of the chain's chief retailing rivals under its wing.

Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, said that by the 5 p.m. close of its takeover offer, Wild Oats' shareholders had tendered 96.8% of the company's outstanding shares for sale at $18.50 each.

The chain said it would pay Wild Oats shareholders and take control of those shares over the next three business days, then acquire the remaining shares.

Whole Foods announced its plan to buy Wild Oats in February, and the Federal Trade Commission sued in June to block the deal, saying it would hobble competition in the market for natural and organic groceries.

But last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington denied an FTC request to delay the sale while regulators appealed a lower court ruling.

Whole Foods declined to comment further. FTC representatives did not return messages seeking comment.

The announcement of the successful tender offer came after markets closed Monday. Whole Foods shares gained $1.21, or 2.7%, to $45.75. Shares of Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats edged up 2 cents to $18.48.

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