Senator questions quick approval of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. senator on Friday questioned the Federal Trade Commission’s quick approval of Inc’s purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc this week, less than three months after the $13.7 billion deal was announced.

The FTC on Wednesday said it ended its antitrust investigation without seeking a second request for additional information on the deal that has sent shock waves through the grocery industry.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, said in a statement on Friday that she is concerned about the FTC’s decision to “not fully review” the deal, which was announced on June 16.

“Amazon’s increased access to data on consumers and their behavior, and its dominance in internet retail sales, raises questions about whether this merger harms consumers and suppresses competition,” she said.

Klobuchar said she would ask the FTC to explain why it made such a quick decision.

Amazon declined comment on Klobuchar’s statement. The FTC did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

After getting the approval of the FTC and Whole Foods shareholders this week, the Seattle-based company said on Thursday it planned to complete the acquisition on Monday and simultaneously introduce lower prices on some grocery staples.

The world’s biggest online retailer also said it plans to start selling some Whole Foods-branded products on its website and will offer incentives to its Prime members at Whole Foods stores.

Shares in major grocery stores fell sharply on Thursday over fears that Amazon’s move would spark a new round of price wars in the industry, but recovered some of those losses on Friday.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Rigby

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