Amazon buying Whole Foods in $13.7 billion deal; grocery stocks tumble

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Amazon has agreed to buy Austin-based organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, or $42 a share, in an all-cash transaction and assume the company's debt. Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell 4.7 percent to $75.24, and Target shares dropped 5.1 percent to $52.61, signaling fears that Amazon could reduce Whole Foods' prices and broaden its product mix. "They're doing an awesome job and we want that to continue".

The building's footprint will be 855,000 square feet, but with three stories, the building will have a total of 2.4 million square feet inside.

Offering a rather upscale shopping experience, Whole Foods' popularity and prevalence has grown tremendously over the years as consumers seek out more organic, natural and nutritious food choices.

Completion of Amazon's purchase is subject to approval by Whole Foods' shareholders, regulatory OKs and other closing conditions.

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"With this merger, Amazon will also be able to invigorate the popularity of a highly fractured online grocery and delivery market, with the rollout of Amazon Fresh nationwide", he told the E-Commerce Times.

"This is an natural disaster rattling through the grocery sector as well as the retail world", said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com.

(NASDAQ:WFM) in a transaction valued at $13.7 billion. But those involved expect the deal to close in the second half of the year. Consumers are buying more from outside of traditional supermarkets. Other retailers such as Walmart and Target have already been performing well in the grocery sector.

Whole Foods has hundreds of locations all over the country. Whole Foods itself had launched an offshoot chain named after its "365" private label brand in a nod to the popularity of no-frills chains. "Whole Foods' online grocery channel is operated by Instacart, which will likely not be the case for long if the acquisition is approved".

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The market reverberations of the announced deal traveled beyond the retail industry - shares of food companies like Hershey and Campbell Soup slid, too. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey had lambasted the hedge fund as "greedy bastards."

"Make no mistake, Walmart under no circumstances can lose the grocery wars to Amazon", said Brittain Ladd, a strategy and supply chain consultant who formerly worked with Amazon on its grocery business.

Whole Foods now has an exclusive delivery arrangement with Instacart which isn't due to expire for several more years.

This deal points towards Amazon's big focus on the grocery business, especially in the US.

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