NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whole Foods Market Inc WFMI.O said on Monday it had bought smaller rival Wild Oats Markets Inc OATS.O, following months of delays as U.S. antitrust authorities sought to block the $565 million deal.
The acquisition extends Whole Foods’ dominance in the expanding natural and organic grocery market and eliminates one of the chain’s chief retailing rivals.
Whole Foods said that by the close of its takeover offer at 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, Wild Oats’ shareholders had tendered 96.8 percent of the company’s outstanding shares for sale at $18.50 each.
The Austin, Texas-based chain said it would pay Wild Oats shareholders and take control of all those shares over the next three business days.
Whole Foods announced its plan to buy Wild Oats for $565 million plus the assumption of debt in February. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued to block the deal in June, saying it would hobble competition in the market for natural and organic groceries.
A federal appeals court denied the FTC’s request to temporarily block the deal on August 23, paving the way for Whole Foods to move ahead with its takeover plan.
Reporting by Bill Rigby