Donald Trump’s tough talk about muscling Amazon isn’t stopping the government from green-lighting the company’s Whole Foods mega-merger.
The Federal Trade Commission said in a statement Wednesday that it’s decided that the deal doesn’t break antitrust laws designed to prevent any one company from gaining too much market power.
The decision comes after an agency probe into the matter prompted at least in part by a complaint alleging that Amazon was misrepresenting its savings to customers.
It also comes after more than a year of periodic jabs from the president in which he hinted that he might use the federal watchdogs to crack down on the e-commerce giant for various supposed offenses. The then-candidate told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last spring that Amazon has a “huge antitrust problem”
The attacks appeared to be mostly in response to negative coverage from the Washington Post, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns independent of the shopping site.
Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
Trump wasn’t the only Washington politician who had qualms about the blockbuster deal, though. A host of Capitol Hill Democrats called for increased scrutiny, even going so far as to advocate a wholesale rethinking of the way competition law has been practiced for the last four decades.
Despite those objections, most antitrust experts expected Wednesday’s outcome. Antitrust policy, as it’s interpreted today, is premised entirely on consumer harm, and there’s not much of a case to be made that the joining of the two companies will burden shoppers.
It’s also worth remembering that Whole Foods only constitutes around two percent of the grocery market and only one percent online grocery delivery as a whole.
Still, there was some worry among investors that that the deal could be delayed until later in the year because of the political optics.
Whole Foods shareholders approved the deal just before the FTC’s statement was released.
The decision means we’re now that much closer to the prospect of drone-delivered kale.