Amazon has won approval from the US government to complete its takeover of upscale grocer Whole Foods Market. In giving their blessing, regulators have set the stage for a Silicon Valley supermarket invasion.
The e-commerce giant in June announced its proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of the grocery chain, and has since awaited approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which was reviewing whether the deal would unfairly hurt market competition.
“Based on our investigation, we have decided not to pursue this matter further,” the commission said in a statement late Wednesday (Aug. 23). “Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted.”
The regulatory approval sets into motion Amazon’s ambitious foray into a hyper-competitive US grocery market, which is already under siege as super-cheap European discount chains have started competing with established chains such as Kroger, Meijer, and Publix. The FTC decision also represents a green light by the federal government, even as US president Donald Trump has openly disparaged Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Much of the president’s ire toward Bezos is rooted in the fact that he owns the Washington Post, the target of Trump complaints about negative coverage. In attacking the Post, Trump has also accused Amazon of being a “no-tax monopoly.”
Despite the president’s opinion about whether Amazon is a monopoly, a regulatory agency under his purview approved the acquisition, which ensures that US consumers can expect the online retailer to make further inroads into their daily lives.