On Friday, a US Democratic Senator questioned quick approval of Amazon.com Inc.’s purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc. by the Federal Trade Commission this week. The approval was made less than three weeks after the deal worth $13.7 billion had been announced. On Wednesday, the FTC stated that they had put an end to its antitrust investigation without asking for a second request for obtaining additional information about a deal that has shocked the very core of the entire grocery industry. In a statement made on Friday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota expressed her concerns about the decision made by the FTC of not ‘fully reviewing’ the deal that was made on June 16.
She said that the deal raises questions about whether this merger will suppress competition and harm the consumers because it will give Amazon further access to data on them as well as their behaviors, along with the dominance it already enjoys in retail sales. Klobuchar said that she would speak to the FTC and get to the bottom of why they had chosen to give approval so quickly. No comment was made by the Seattle-based ecommerce giant. After Amazon got approval from the Whole Foods shareholders and the FTC this week, the company said on Thursday that they were planning to complete this acquisition by Monday.
It also said that they were simultaneously going to introduce lower prices on some of its grocery products. It was also asserted by the biggest online retailer in the world that it will soon begin to sell some of the Whole Foods-branded products on its site and its Prime members will also be offered incentives at all Whole Foods stores. There was a decline in the shares of major grocery stores in fear that a new round of price wars would begin in the industry after Amazon’s move, but they picked up somewhat on Friday.
This approval of the deal is one of the first major decisions the FTC has made under Trump’s administration. There are five seats in the commission, but only two members for now as no one has been nominated by the president for filling the three remaining positions. Earlier this month, it was reported that the leading choice of President Donald Trump for running the agency was Joseph Simons. The Washington lawyer had served as a top FTC official under the administration of President George W. Bush.
If Simons is appointed, he would replace Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting Chairman who has been managing the FTC since January. There still has not been any approval by the US Senate for Trump’s choice Makan Delrahim for heading the antitrust division of the Justice Department. In July, Congressional Democrats had suggested that a harder line be taken on mergers and antitrust laws be strengthened for providing regulators with more tools for blocking any such deals or revisiting those that had already been granted approval. A number of mergers are being reviewed by the Trump administration and potential conditions are being discussed.