Ron Burkle Buys 7% Stake in Whole Foods

Los Angeles billionaire and supermarket mogul Ron Burkle on Thursday disclosed in a regulatory filing that he had purchased a 7% stake in Whole Foods Market.

It was just last week that Burkle revealed in another filing he had acquired an 8.3% stake in Barnes & Noble Inc. In both cases, Burkle said he believed the shares of the companies were undervalued.

Burkle amassed his fortune, estimated at about $3 billion before the recent financial meltdown, buying and selling supermarket chains such as Ralphs, Alpha Beta, Fred Meyer Inc. and Food4Less, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

In the Securities and Exchange Commission filing related to Whole Foods Market, Burkle said he believed "there are substantial opportunities for the company to improve operations and its pricing image while maintaining its high-quality product offering."

Burkle said in the filing that for now, he will keep the Whole Foods Market shares as an investment.

However, he said he would "closely monitor the company's performance" and could modify his plans depending on his investment company's evaluation of the grocer's "business prospects and financial position, other developments" and "opportunities."

Whole Foods Market jumped $2.26, or almost 23%, to $12.27 on news of the investment by Burkle and various entities controlled by his Yucaipa Cos. investment arm. The supermarket chain's stock had plunged 77% in 2008.

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