U.S. lawmaker calls for conference on Amazon’s Whole Foods deal


WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The tip Democrat on a U.S. House of Representatives’ antitrust subcommittee has uttered concerns about Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) $13.7 billion devise to buy Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM.O) and is pulling for a conference to demeanour into a deal’s impact on consumers.

The understanding announced in Jun outlines a biggest partnership for a world’s largest online retailer. Amazon has not pronounced what it would do with Whole Foods’ stores and other assets, though analysts and investors worry a understanding could invert a landscape for grocers, food smoothness services and meal-kit companies.

U.S. Representative David Cicilline requested a conference on Thursday in a minute to a chair of a House Judiciary Committee and a subcommittee chairman.

Amazon and Whole Foods declined to comment.

Amazon shares sealed adult 0.1 percent during $1,001.81. Whole Foods rose 0.3 percent to $42.10.

“Amazon’s due squeeze of Whole Foods could impact area grocery stores and overworked consumers opposite America,” a Rhode Island Democrat pronounced in a statement. “Congress has a shortcoming to entirely investigate this partnership before it goes ahead.”

The understanding contingency be authorized by U.S. antitrust enforcers, many approaching a Federal Trade Commission.

Congress plays no grave purpose in that routine though hearings mostly prominence a probable impact of deals on consumers. The conference is doubtful to occur but Republican support.

FTC members are named by a president. A furious label in a examination is a perspective of President Donald Trump, who famously pronounced before his choosing that Amazon has “a outrageous antitrust problem.” Trump was unfortunate about coverage of his debate by a Washington Post, owned by Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.

Cicilline’s district includes many of a city of Providence, home to United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI.O), that is Whole Foods’ primary supplier.

The company, whose reserve criticism for roughly one-third of Whole Foods sales and has a agreement with a tradesman by 2025, pronounced it did not ask a lawmaker to intervene. Prior to a Amazon bid, romantic financier organisation Jana Partners had criticized Whole Foods for high costs compared with a United Natural Foods contract.

U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, pronounced in a podcast this month that Amazon’s distance and poke could harm tiny retailers and eventually lead to aloft prices.

This week, sidestep account manager Douglas Kass from Seabreeze Partners Management Inc pronounced he was shorting shares of a tradesman after conference rumblings on Capitol Hill about Amazon’s distance and clout.

“I am shorting Amazon now since we have schooled that there are now early discussions and due industry being deliberate in a legislative chambers in Washington, D.C.,” he wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday. “If we am correct, word of this could reduce Amazon’s shares by 10 percent overnight.”

Kass pronounced in emailed comments to Reuters on Friday that he has what he called a “core” brief position in Amazon, definition a sizeable gamble formed on a long-term outlook.

“This has a intensity of being a biggest business news story of year,” he said. Kass declined to criticism when asked for some-more sum about vigour from Capitol Hill.

Kass is followed for his bets on declines in companies’ share prices. He shorted Marvel Entertainment in 1992 when a shares were in a high $60s, and a association went broke 1-1/2 years later.

He also gamble opposite large U.S. banks heading into a 2007-2009 financial crisis, shorting Bank of America, MGIC, Citigroup and several other financials that eventually averaged a 98 percent cost decrease by a time they bottomed in 2009.

While antitrust experts have pronounced they approaching Amazon’s bid to win regulatory approval, some critics disagree a understanding should be blocked since it would give a tradesman a large conduct start towards mastery of online grocery delivery.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Chris Sanders and Richard Chang


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