Mackey Expected ‘Quick and Easy’ Deal

John Mackey, chairman and chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market, thought his company’s acquisition bid for Wild Oats would be hassle-free, according to a transcript of his antitrust deposition made public last week by the Federal Trade Commission.

WASHINGTON — John Mackey, chairman and chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market, thought his company’s acquisition bid for Wild Oats would be hassle-free, according to a transcript of his antitrust deposition made public last week by the Federal Trade Commission. “We thought this was going to be an easy, quick deal because Whole Foods has less than 1% of the food retailing marketplace,” Mackey said in the deposition, which was done on April 27. He went on to explain that although he wanted to eliminate competition and avoid “nasty price wars” by buying Wild Oats, he said such benefits were only temporary because new competition would enter the market. The transcript was one of several documents related to the acquisition that the FTC posted last week, including internal Whole Foods memos highlighting Wild Oats and Trader Joe’s as the company’s key competitors. In a deposition by Perry Odak, a former Wild Oats CEO who left the chain last year, he stated that the company felt its primary competition was Whole Foods and that conventional supermarkets were not able to compete effectively in the natural-organic space.

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