It’s been a good day for Amazon and its quest to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion.
“The FTC conducted an investigation of this proposed acquisition to determine whether it substantially lessened competition under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, or constituted an unfair method of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act,” Bruce Hoffman, acting director of FTC’s Bureau of Competition said in a statement. “Based on our investigation we have decided not to pursue this matter further. Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the plan, but the FTC’s decision to not pursue further investigation means Amazon has cleared another key hurdle. The deal is expected to close later this year.
The deal will give Amazon a massive physical retail footprint. Whole Foods, which started in Austin, Texas in 1980, operates 468 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Amazon has begun building out its own retail footprint, with two AmazonFresh Pickup stores opening in Seattle, the first checkout-free Amazon Go and a growing complement of bookstores.
It’s unclear how Amazon plans to integrate its technology into Whole Foods or what changes the retail giant might make to grocer’s business. At the time of the announcement of the deal in June Amazon said it had no plans for layoffs or to automate Whole Foods stores using the technology it is developing for Amazon Go.
The deal also puts Amazon in more direct competition with Walmart, the nation’s biggest grocer that just inked a deal with Google.