WASHINGTON — An appeals court here yesterday ordered Whole Foods Markets and Wild Oats Market not to consummate their merger until it has had more time to consider the Federal Trade Commission’s case for blocking the deal on antitrust grounds. Last week a federal district court judge ruled that the $700 million merger, first announced in February, could proceed, but the FTC appealed that decision, arguing that the two chains could raise prices and reduce consumer choice if they combined. The appeals court gave the chains until Wednesday afternoon to file supplemental information addressing “eight reversible errors” the FTC claims were committed by the district court. The FTC will then have until 12 noon Thursday to respond. Whole Foods yesterday said it has delayed its tender offer for Wild Oats until next Monday to allow for the court’s consideration of the appeal. The company said 68.1% of Wild Oats’ shares had been tendered as of Friday.
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