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Whole Foods Resubmits Petition Against FTC Decision

BY CSA STAFF

Austin, Texas Whole Foods Market Inc. said it resubmitted its petition against the Federal Trade Commission in a Washington, D.C. appeals court so a decision related to its acquisition of Wild Oats Markets Inc. could be made faster.

“Whole Foods Market is interested in getting to the merits of this case as quickly as possible rather than spending everyone’s valuable time and resources arguing about jurisdiction,” Jim Sud, executive VP, growth and business development, Whole Foods Market, said in a statement late Thursday.

The grocer sued the FTC last month, claiming the regulator violated its due process rights in a dispute over its acquisition of rival Wild Oats Markets.

Whole Foods Market purchased Wild Oats Markets in 2007 for $565 million. But the acquisition has been in a legal limbo since then due to an antitrust challenge.

The FTC thought the deal could create a natural-food monopoly, but federal judges determined the acquisition could move forward. However, more than a year later, an appeals court decision threw it all back into question.

The FTC is conducting administrative proceedings in the case that are scheduled to go to trial in April. The proceedings are intended to be an impartial inquiry into whether a deal violates antitrust laws.

Whole Foods Market said that it voluntarily withdrew its case from the district court and refiled it with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The chain is asking the court to stop the FTC from conducting a trial because it claims the regulator is already biased against Whole Foods Market and will not give the company enough time to get ready for the administrative trial.

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Walmart offers $9 smoking cessation kits

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart announced this week that as part of its Operation Main Street initiative, it will offer a smoking cessation prescription starter pack for $9. According to Walmart the $9 starter pack of bupropion ER 150mg is the lowest priced on the market and the generic equivalent of Zyban. The starter pack is available at Walmart, Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Club pharmacies in a 17-tablet, 10-day supply.

“Times are tight right now, and Walmart is committed to helping our customers maintain their healthy lifestyles in both good economic times and bad,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, Walmart SVP and president of health and wellness. “With our affordable smoking cessation offerings, we’re hopeful that smokers who are committed to quitting will be able to get the tools they need to stop smoking and still be able to afford everyday household items so they can live better.”

The health community applauded Walmart for its efforts in helping smokers find affordable ways to quit.

“The public health community has long recognized that the cost of either cigarettes or smoking cessation medications has served as a determining factor for smokers to continue smoking or finally to decide to quit,” said Cheryl Healton, Dr. P.H., president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. “This move by Walmart to provide science-based smoking cessation therapies that smokers can more easily afford is a huge step forward in helping millions of smokers finally quit for good. We applaud Walmart and hope other retailers will follow their example. It can only result in longer, healthier lives.”

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Steinhafel named chairman of Target

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel, will assume the additional role of chairman of the board, effective Feb. 1. Steinhafel succeeds Bob Ulrich, who will retire from the board, as previously announced, at the end of the 2008 fiscal year. The board also announced that Ulrich will be designated chairman emeritus in recognition of his many significant contributions.

Steinhafel joined Target in 1979 and served in a variety of merchandising positions until being named EVP of merchandising in 1994. He was promoted to president of Target in 1999 and became a member of the board of directors in 2007. Steinhafel succeeded Ulrich as CEO of Target in May 2008.

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