DALLAS - Whole Foods Market said Tuesday it has lined up financing to complete its $565 million purchase of rival organic and natural foods grocer Wild Oats Markets, ending a six-month battle against federal regulators who tried to block the deal on anti-trust grounds.
The company said it took out a five-year, $700 million loan to fund the deal, which also includes the assumption of $137 million in Wild Oats debt.
“While closing this merger has taken longer than we anticipated, we are very excited to now begin the integration process,” Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said.
The fight to buy Wild Oats was bruising, and both Mackey and the FTC emerged from the fight with black eyes, according to former FTC officials and analysts.
For antitrust regulators, Whole Foods is the latest in a string of setbacks in their attempts to prevent acquisitions that they believe hurt competition.
And Mackey’s image was damaged when it was discovered that he made anonymous comments on financial Web sites touting his company’s stock while denigrating Wild Oats as being poorly managed and overpriced. The Securities and Exchange Commission is informally investigating the postings. In court documents, the FTC also released the content of internal company memos that portrayed Whole Foods as a voracious competitor eager to eliminate a rival and keep prices high.