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US competition watchdog clears £10.7bn Amazon-Whole Foods deal

Lucy Burton
The US Federal Trade Commission has said it will not stand in the way of Amazon's planned $13.7bn (£10.7bn) takeover of upmarket grocer Whole Foods. - REUTERS

The US Federal Trade Commission has said it will not stand in the way of Amazon's planned $13.7bn (£10.7bn) takeover of upmarket grocer Whole Foods, signing off on the deal hours after it was backed by the supermarket chain's shareholders. 

The regulator conducted an initial analysis to see if the deal could seriously hamper competition in the market but has decided not to investigate further, its acting competition chief Bruce Hoffman said on Wednesday. 

Shareholders in Whole Foods had given the acquisition their seal of approval hours earlier, removing what could have been another major roadblock to the deal. 

A customer carries shopping bags outside a Whole Foods Market location in New York. It has been facing pressure from restless shareholders after nearly two years of sliding sales. 

This is set to be the biggest deal in Amazon's history and will likely see the online giant take charge of more than 460 shops across the US, Canada and the UK instantly. 

Amazon has had its eye on the food industry for years, having launched Amazon Fresh in the US a decade ago and in the UK last year, while Whole Foods has been under pressure to sell itself amid stalling growth. 

However there are fears among grocers that the move, which was first announced in June, could completely transform the already competitive supermarket sector. 

The organic food specialist has nine stores in the UK, although most of those are in London. It was set up in 1978 as a small natural foods store by twenty-five-year-old John Mackey, who remains chief executive.