Washington, D.C. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Monday that its administrative hearing denouncing Whole Foods Market’s acquisition of Wild Oats is finally set for Feb. 16. The hearing had been delayed by postponements.
The proposed merger raised a red flag with the FTC, which believes the marriage violates antitrust laws. While the group argues that the combination raises antitrust concerns in 21 states where the two chains were each other’s closest competitors, Whole Foods argued that its chain competes against all grocery chains, not just organic companies.
The FTC has been fighting for a hearing since July, when a federal court of appeals ruled that a lower judge erred when he declined to issue a preliminary injunction in the deal.
The hearing will last no more than 30 days, according to the FTC.