Whole Foods Market officials have extended the expiration date on its tender offer to buy Wild Oats Markets through Aug. 15. This marks the fifth extension on the proposed purchase.
In February, Whole Foods, headquartered in Austin, Texas, came forward with an offer to buy Wild Oats, based in Boulder, Colo. The point, said officials, is to create a single company that could better compete with larger, traditional grocery entities that are moving deeper into the organic and prepared foods areas.
However, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission quickly stepped forward, filing a suit to block the deal. The point being that Whole Foods and Wild Oats are the majority players in a niche market and consolidation of the two would swing the market share too far into a single entity's control.
It no doubt hasn't helped that Whole Foods President, John Mackey, was exposed about a month ago for blogging negative comments about Wild Oats on the Internet for more than a year. The question is whether part of his objective was to lower Wild Oats' stock as his company had plans to purchase the competitor. While FTC looks into that issue, other market analysts say that Mackey's actions raise more concern about his ethics, judgement and his ability to lead the company.
Now, three consumer groups have now filed a "friend of the court" brief supporting the FTC's original suit. The groups involve the Consumer Federation of America, the American Antitrust Institute and the Organization for Competitive Markets. So, it's possible that a sixth extension may be needed.
All of this activity surrounding Whole Foods is worth the pork and other meat industries' attention because Mackey has implemented animal-care standards for meat suppliers. But more importantly, has been vocal about his desire to end meat consumption in general.