Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

United States lawmaker calls for hearing on Amazon purchase of Whole Foods

United States lawmaker calls for hearing on Amazon purchase of Whole Foods

A USA politician has called for hearings on the proposed deal to consider its ramifications for shoppers and workers.

Douglass Kass, a hedge fund manager and head of Seabreeze Partners Management, believes there will be actions taken soon to address the complaint that Amazon is becoming too big.

Still, Amazon's shares have gained 34 per cent this year, rising to $US1003.21 on Friday in NY. A key legal question is if Seattle-based Amazon has grown to the point of discouraging innovation from competitors. The shareholder has reportedly said the deal undervalues Whole Foods and is being made without sufficient transparency. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post. "The odds are the Whole Foods acquisition will go through, but these political winds will create a bit of a fight".

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Almost a month after Amazon and Whole Foods Market Inc. announced a $13.7 billion merger agreement, a Whole Foods shareholder filed a lawsuit looking to block the acquisition, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.

U.S. Representative David Cicilline, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, sent a letter [PDF] to the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and the chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, urging them to hold a hearing to consider whether the merger will harm consumers, workers, and small businesses.

Analysts have speculated that Amazon may use Whole Foods' retail sites to launch a pharmacy business. It would be the biggest purchase in Amazon's history, Bloomberg reported.

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"Amazon is an e-commerce retailer who has evolved in understanding and accepting the strategic value of physical retail stores", said Brittain Ladd, who left Amazon in May for family reasons after working there for two years, first as the senior manager of strategy and expansion for AmazonFresh and then as the senior manager of Amazon Global Logistics for the Special Projects unit. In terms of the overall grocery industry, Whole Foods controls just single-digit percentages of the market - and Amazon, even less.

Amazon and Whole Foods declined to comment.

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