AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market Inc. will sell 13 stores to resolve the Federal Trade Commission's challenge of its $565 million purchase of Wild Oats Markets, the company said Friday.
Whole Foods is putting 12 Wild Oats stores and one Whole Foods store up for sale in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.
The Austin, Texas-based company will also sell leases and assets of 19 Wild Oats stores that have closed, including one in Louisville. The Lexington location is not involved.
Federal regulators had challenged Whole Foods' 2007 acquisition of Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats, worrying the deal would create a natural-food monopoly.
The FTC's leader said in a statement that selling the stores will "substantially" restore competition that the purchase eliminated.
"As a result of this settlement, American consumers will see more choices and lower prices for organic foods," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in the statement.
Whole Foods and Wild Oats were one another's closest competitors in markets where they overlapped, the FTC said.
Once the FTC approves the settlement, which it is expected to do before April 30, Whole Foods plans to take a non-cash charge of no more than $19 million for the sale of the stores, which recorded sales of $31 million in the fiscal first quarter of 2009.