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Federal appeals court puts hold on Whole Foods takeover

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday temporarily blocked organic grocer Whole Foods Market from taking over rival Wild Oats Markets [corporate websites], saying that it needed more time to consider the proposed acquisition. The court stressed that its move should not be construed as a ruling on the merits, but issued a temporary stay blocking the $565 million merger [Wild Oats FAQ] until the court can hear further arguments.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] filed an appeal of a district court decision [order, PDF] allowing Whole Foods to buy Wild Oats Markets. US District Judge Paul L. Friedman refused to issue an injunction blocking the acquisition [Bloomberg report], saying it did not violate US antitrust laws. The FTC argues that the merger will limit competition in the organic food market, thereby hurting consumers. Whole Foods, however, maintains that it must still compete with traditional food markets that are beginning to offer more organic varieties. AP has more.

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