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Amazon-WFM Merger Deal Clears Shareholder, Regulatory Hurdle

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Amazon.com, Inc.’s (AMZN - Free Report) much-awaited acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Inc. has overcome two of its biggest hurdles.

The pending deal has been granted an antitrust clearance by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Notably, FTC does not expect the deal to hurt competition in any way, and has thus given a nod to the deal. Also, the Whole Foods Market shareholders have approved the buyout.

Importantly, these were the last approvals required to complete the merger. Subject to the remaining customary closing conditions, both the companies expect the transaction to close by the end of this year.

Amazon has underperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis. The company’s shares have gained only 27.8%, lower than the industry’s gain of 50.3%.

Details

In June, Amazon inked a definitive merger to purchase a leading natural and organic foods supermarket, Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. The all-cash transaction involves buying Whole Foods for $42 per share.

The company recently announced a private offering of bonds aggregating $16 billion to fund its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Inc.

On completion, Whole Foods will continue to operate with its current brand name and John Mackey will remain the CEO of the company. Amazon could likely become the fifth largest United States grocery retailer after Wal-Mart (WMT - Free Report) , Kroger (KR - Free Report) , Costco and Albertsons/Safeway.

The deal gives Amazon an opportunity to leverage Whole Foods’ 460 stores across the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, 87,000 employees, and its solid reputation.

Deal Rationale

The deal will open a window of opportunities for Amazon in the retail market. Online retail sales are expected to decelerate, while the overall retail market still holds a lot of potential. This might be because a large number of customers still prefer shopping offline and will continue to do so in the future. This is particularly true when it comes to grocery.

Therefore, Amazon has been making moves to gradually merge online and offline retail. 

Amazon might add a few new offline and online features to Whole Foods’ stores in the future. The deal gives Amazon opportunities to leverage its resources and technological prowess to enhance shopping experience by cutting time and increasing convenience. This in turn could give it an edge over competing retailers.

We believe that the acquisition will not only reshape the retail landscape but also help it counter competition, if it manages to get a first mover advantage.

Bottom Line

In the face of slow e-commerce growth and mounting competition, Amazon is looking for ways to branch out to physical retail, a sizable brick-and-mortar footprint.

So Amazon’s increasing transition from build-to-buy option is a clear indication of the company wanting to speed up its market penetration, expansion and competitive strategies.

Although brick-and-mortar initiatives are relatively new, investors will see far more growth if Amazon could repeat its past success in this space. Everything that Amazon touches has been transformed to gold and its brick-and-mortar venture could well add another feather in its cap.

Amazon.com, Inc. Price and Consensus

 

Amazon.com, Inc. Price and Consensus | Amazon.com, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank

Currently, Amazon has a Zacks Rank 3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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