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The Hartford Courant reports that in a visit to Yale University yesterday, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said that he hoped to have “an announcement in the next couple of weeks” of a settlement of the ongoing effort by federal regulators to undo the company’s $565 million acquisition of Wild Oats.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), stymied in its initial efforts to block the deal, has been trying to unravel the merger both through administrative hearings and court filings. The FTC’s case is based on its antitrust argument that the deal created a dominant entity in the natural/organic segment that would result in higher prices and less choice for consumers. Whole Foods, on the other hand, has argued that there is plenty of competition in the segment, and that prices actually have gone down since the merger.

In the last few weeks, however, the FTC has called a halt to its various initiatives as it engaged in settlement talks that were requested by Whole Foods. The details of what a settlement might entail, however, have not been divulged.

According to the story, “. Mackey came to Yale to deliver two separate lectures, one called ‘Conscious Capitalism,’ in which he described the principles of Whole Foods' business philosophy, and another called ‘A Vision of Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Eating in the 21st Century.’ He portrayed Whole Foods as an organization that seeks profits as a byproduct of pursuing other ideals, including service to others, devotion to discovery, the pursuit of excellence and improvement of the world at large.”

KC's View:
Hard to imagine that the government would persecute an entity with such lofty goals and motivations.

But hopefully it will be all over soon, and the FTC bureaucrats can start figuring out what to do with their lives once their government services has ended, and Mackey can focus more on how to make a company nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” relevant and viable in a recessionary economy.