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The FTC says it won’t stop Amazon from buying Whole Foods

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The Federal Trade Commission says it won’t attempt to block Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, despite some calls for the agency to closely scrutinize the deal.

“The FTC conducted an investigation of this proposed acquisition to determine whether it substantially lessened competition under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, or constituted an unfair method of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act,” the acting chief of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition said in a statement. “Based on our investigation we have decided not to pursue this matter further.”

Experts generally expected the deal, which also requires a sign-off from the Justice Department, to be approved, even as it was criticized by others. The FTC said in its statement that it “always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted.”

Amazon first proposed the $13.7 billion deal in June. Last month, Reuters reported that the FTC, as part of its review, was looking into allegations that Amazon had misled customers about discounts. A letter from a group of lawmakers around the same time also expressed “concerns” about the deal, asking whether “further consolidation” would impact communities where access to healthy foods is already limited. The FTC’s brief statement did not address any of those concerns directly.

Whole Foods shareholders, meanwhile, also approved the deal today.