Amazon buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

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NEW YORK CITY (CNBC) - Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos Cramer: Amazon could dominate food retail within next two years with Whole Foods deal
47 Mins Ago | 04:35
Amazon said Friday it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market for $42 a share, in a deal valued at $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods' John Mackey will remain CEO of the grocery store chain after the deal closes, and the store will continue to operate under the Whole Foods brand.

Amazon's offer represents a 27 percent premium to Whole Foods' closing price on Thursday. The deal is expected to close in the second half year.

"This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market's shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers," Mackey said in a statement.

Whole Foods has been under pressure from Jana Partners hedge fund and money management firm Neuberger Berman, which have called on Whole Foods to sell itself. The investors have criticized Whole Foods for its poor performance, and have suggested the chain could be merged with another grocer.

Some analysts had seen Wal-Mart being best positioned to compete in the next phase of growth in online shopping because it was going to be able to use its vast footprint of stores to help distribute products ordered online. Also, Wal-Mart has been successful with its so-called click-and-collect model, where shoppers order online but stop by the store to pickup their orders.

Meanwhile, Whole Foods has been seen as a laggard in the online shift. Their stores tend to be in urban markets where there was an overlap with Amazon Fresh and Prime Now.

Amazon has long been pushing to expand its online grocery business.

Online has been the next frontier for the grocery business. However, very few people purchase their groceries online even as more shoppers switch to buying other goods online.

Shares of Amazon were up about 3 percent following the news.

News that the e-commerce giants buying grocery store Whole Foods sent grocery stocks reeling on Friday.

Kroger sank nearly 16 percent before the bell. Supervalu dropped 11.5 percent while Costco dropped 6.5 percent. Sprouts Farmers sank 9.2 percent.