FTC v. Whole Foods Market - Settlement Talks
Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) is beginning to understand how MSNBC cable news host Keith Olberman must feel each and every night on his program, "Countdown With Keith Olbermann," the format of the show being an hour-long "countdown" of the day's top news stories, now that we've been counting-down the days until March 6, regarding Whole Foods Market's and the FTC's settlement deal negotiations.
And, as the March, 2009 calendar page at the top reminds us in black and white, March 6 is almost here.
Today, Thursday, March 5 ended without the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Whole Foods Market announcing a settlement deal had been reached in FTC v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., the regulatory agency's legal case designed to overturn Whole Foods' 2007 friendly acquisition of Wild Oats Markets, Inc.
Tomorrow is the day the FTC has said its temporary halt in legal proceedings regarding the antitrust case will end.
The FTC imposed the halt last month after Whole Foods brought an offer of settlement to the U.S. Federal Government agency responsible for antitrust enforcement and consumer protection.
According to our sources, the Whole Foods market settlement offer included the selling of a certain number of former Wild Oats stores now converted to the Whole Foods' brand in some of the 29 U.S. markets where the FTC claims a combined Whole Foods-Wild Oats is a monopoly in what the FTC calls the "premium natural and organic retailing segment (PNOS)."
If there is an announcement tomorrow, we think it will include one of, or a combination of, the five things detailed below:
>The FTC could announce an extension of its halt in legal proceedings, saying negotiations with Whole Foods are continuing, but that more time is needed. In our analysis, such an extension would likley be for no more than two weeks, because the FTC has set April 6 as the start date for its administrative trial in the antitrust case.
> Both sides could announce that no settlement deal has been reached but they are continuing talks but no extension of the FTC halt.
> One or both sides could announce that no settlement deal has been reached and they will no longer negotiate a settlement.
> Both sides could announce a settlement deal has been reached.
>Both sides could announce nothing. It's Friday, and even if the two parties were to reach a deal they might not announce it on a Friday.
Of course, if there is bad news to announce, they probably will do it tomorrow, since Friday is the favorite day for government agencies, politicians and corporations to announce bad news. It's the end of the week and fewer people pay attention to the news on weekends. The financial markets are also closed on the weekends. So you announce it after the markets close on Friday.
For now, we're going to leave it here. But we will be reporting and offering some fresh analysis tomorrow, Friday, March 6, 2009. Stay tuned.
Daily Memo: Countdown to March 6, 2009
Read our Wednesday, March 4, 2009 Daily Memo at the link: ]Daily Memo - Whole Foods Market - FTC Settlement Deal Watch - Countdown to March 6]
>Read our Tuesday, March 3, 2009 Daily Memo at the link: [Daily Memo - Whole Foods Market - FTC - Settlement Deal Watch - Countdown to March 6]
>Read our Monday, March 2, 2009 Daily Memo at the link: [Daily Memo - Whole Foods Market - FTC Settlement Deal Watch - Countdown to March 6]
>Read our Friday, February 27 Daily Memo at the link: [Daily Memo: Whole Foods Market - FTC Settlement Deal Watch - Countdown to March 6]
>Read our Thursday, February 26 Daily Memo at the link: [Daily Memo: Whole Foods Market - FTC Settlement Deal Watch - 9 Days to March 6]
>Read our Wednesday, February 25 Daily Memo at the link: [Daily Memo: Whole Foods Market - FTC Settlement Deal Watch - 10 Days to March 6] [Note: There's a bibliography of recent posts on FTC. v. Whole Foods Market, Inc. from Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) at the bottom of the linked column. This is our first Daily Memo on the countdown to March 6.]