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Amazon to buy upmarket grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 bln (AMZN, WFM)

17 June 2017

The Seattle-based online shopping and data storage giant announced today that it would be purchasing Austin-based organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market Inc. for $42 (all figures USD) per share, or $13.7 billion.

Amazon already runs an online grocery store, AmazonFresh, but adding Whole Foods' 460 US, Canadian and United Kingdom stores will greatly expand its reach.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, said that Whole Foods has been "doing an fantastic job" of "satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for almost four decades... and we want that to continue".

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Amazon is adding the grocery game to its ever expanding markets of goods, services, and entertainment.

Amazon's US-listed shares were up 2.5pc in morning trading, while Whole Foods shares skyrocketed 27pc.

Whole Foods, which has faced pressure from activist investors, will continue to operate stores under its brand and will be led by co-founder and chief executive John Mackey, the companies said.

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Amazon and Whole Foods expect to close the deal during the second half of 2017. At the time, Mackey said, "Our business is strong with record revenue of $15.7 billion, and over $1 billion in operating cash flow in 2016".

Shortly after the announcement was made, Whole Foods stock (WFM) was trading at $32.77 per share in pre-market trading, down slightly from Thursday's closing price of $33.06.

In May, under pressure from Jana Partners, Whole Foods replaced five board members and its chief financial officer.

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"These people, they just want to sell Whole Foods Market and make hundreds of millions of dollars, and they have to know that I'm going to resist that", Mackey told Texas Monthly.