Friday, January 30, 2009

FTC and Whole Foods in Settlement Talks

CNN reports that the Federal Trade Commission has temporarily suspended its challenge to the Whole Foods/Wild Oats Merger so that the parties may engage in settlement talks.

Antitrust officianados will recall that the FTC challenged the merger in 2007. The Commission did NOT claim that the merger would substantially lessen competition in the market for retail groceries. Instead, it argued that the relevant market was much narrower, i.e., "premium, natural and organic supermarkets." The district court rejected the Commission's efforts to enjoin the transaction, and the parties consumated it. The D.C. Circuit reversed, albeit in an decision that produced three opinions, one of them dissenting.

Here is a link to the story on CNN.