FTC Wants Whole Foods / Wild Oats Merger Reversed

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In what appears to be a legal longshot, the FTC has filed a motion with a Washington appellate court asking it to review an August federal-district court ruling that allowed the $565 million Whole Food/Wild Oats merger. The agency opposes the merger on antitrust grounds, and argues that an appeal is still warranted, in part because the new company continues to operate Wild Oats stores separately. Earlier this month, Whole Foods filed a motion asking the appellate court to declare the case moot. "It will be very difficult for the FTC to get this decision reversed," said antitrust lawyer Paul Yde. The district-court judge's opinion "was very strong... I'm surprised they're still pushing." Whole Foods shares are down 3%.

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