Antitrust Law

Judge Won’t Block Whole Foods Deal

A D.C. federal judge has refused to issue an injunction barring Whole Foods from buying competitor Wild Oats for $565 million.

Judge Paul Friedman didn’t agree with government claims that the two chains dominated a distinct market for natural and organic foods, a lawyer who read his sealed opinion told the New York Times. Whole Foods had argued the organic market had expanded to include mainstream grocers.

Washington, D.C., antitrust lawyer William Baer told the Times the ruling is a setback for the Federal Trade Commission, which sought a preliminary injunction to block the merger. “I think they thought this was a slam-dunk.”

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports that the FTC could file an emergency appeal of the ruling, sealed because it discusses confidential company information.

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