- FTC reveals 'confidential' Whole Foods plans
Retailer now investigating 'apparent improper release' of confidential business info
The Associated Press, Aug 15, 2007
Straight to the Source
Federal regulators filed court documents Tuesday that revealed confidential details about Whole Foods Market Inc.'s proposed $565-million purchase of Wild Oats Markets Inc.
The Federal Trade Commission, which opposes the merger on antitrust grounds, outlined concerns that stores in competitive markets would close and consumers would face higher prices for organic and natural foods if the deal goes through.
The FTC documents disclosed that Whole Foods plans to close 30 or more Wild Oats stores, a move that the company believes would nearly double revenue for some Whole Foods stores.
The agency also revealed how Whole Foods negotiates with suppliers to drive up costs for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Regulators also discussed the company's closely held marketing strategies.
A judge is considering whether to block the deal temporarily.
Many of the details in the documents, which FTC lawyers filed electronically, were not meant to be released publicly, but words intended to be redacted were actually just electronically shaded black. The words could be searched, copied, pasted and read in versions downloaded from court computer servers.