Whole Foods Buys Wild Oats, Ending Saga

By Josh Fineman
Bloomberg News
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Whole Foods Market, the largest U.S. natural-foods grocery chain, acquired Wild Oats Markets for $565 million after the government failed to block the transaction on concerns that it would reduce competition.

About 97 percent of investors have tendered their shares in favor of the deal, including 84 percent delivered by the end of the day yesterday, Austin-based Whole Foods said in a statement. Completion of the transaction will occur today, spokeswoman Kate Lowery said yesterday in an interview.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman on Aug. 16 turned down the Federal Trade Commission's bid to block the acquisition, saying it did not not violate any antitrust laws. An appeals court last week denied the government's request that the decision be put on hold.

Whole Foods agreed to buy Wild Oats in February for $18.50 a share. The FTC sued to block the transaction in June, claiming consumers would be hurt by higher prices and decreased competition.

Whole Foods shares rose $1.21, or 2.7 percent, to $45.75. Shares of Wild Oats, based in Boulder, Colo., increased 2 cents to $18.48.

Whole Foods extended the date of its tender offer to Wild Oats shareholders several times, most recently to yesterday, as the company waited for regulatory and legal permission to complete the offer.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company