Amazon to buy Whole Foods in $13.7B deal

Amazon (AMZN) stormed into the world of food retail Friday with a stunning announcement it will acquire Whole Foods Market (WFM), a move that sent shares of industry mainstays sharply lower as many fear an imminent disruption of the way consumers shop for groceries will continue to pressure margins and potentially upend existing business models. The $475 billion e-commerce giant will snap up the struggling supermarket chain for $42 per share in an all-cash deal valued about $13.7 billion including debt. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. Under the deal, Whole Foods will continue to operate stores under its independent brand and the company’s CEO and founder, John Mackey will remain in his position. Mackey said the partnership allows the Austin, Texas-based food retailer to continue efforts to bring high-quality foods to its customers across America. The deal, subject to approval by regulators and Whole Foods shareholders, is expected to close in the second half of this year. News of the acquisition sent Amazon shares up nearly 3%, their biggest gain since January as Whole Foods leaped 27% in their biggest rally since 2009 to $42.35. At the same time, data from Dow Jones showed investors wiped out roughly $55 billion form the market value of other grocery names including Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), Costco (COST) and Kroger (KR), which cut its full-year earnings guidance on Thursday, extended losses, falling 13% Friday. Whole Foods, largely credited with igniting a large-scale shift in consumer purchasing trends to fresh and sustainably-sourced food offerings, has long been a target of takeover speculation as it continues to face mounting pressure from longtime industry players including Walmart (WMT) and Kroger (KR) as they aggressively move into the fresh and organic food space. In the most recent quarter, Whole Foods booked adjusted earnings of 37 cents a share on revenue of $3.72 billion as sales at stores open at least a year fell 2.8% while transactions declined 3%. aimed at overhauling its purchasing program and category management while also accelerating

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