Amazon.com will acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, a bombshell of a deal that catapults the e-commerce giant into hundreds of physical stores and fulfills a long-held goal of selling more groceries.
Amazon agreed to pay $42 a share in cash for the organic-food chain, including debt, a roughly 27 percent premium to the stock price at Thursday’s close. John Mackey, Whole Foods’ outspoken co-founder, will continue to run the business — a victory after a fight with activist investor Jana Partners that threatened to drive him from power.
The deal sends shockwaves across both the online and brick-and-mortar industries. Grocery chains plunged on Friday — Wal-Mart Stores fell as much as 7.1 percent, while Kroger tumbled 17 percent — as investors worried that woes will mount in the increasingly cutthroat industry. Amazon and Whole Foods weren’t always seen as obvious partners, but Mackey has been under pressure to find an acquirer after Jana disclosed a more than 8 percent stake and began pushing for a buyout. That prodding irked Mackey, who has referred to Whole Foods as his “baby” and to Jana as “greedy bastards.”
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