Whole Foods Probes FTC Leak of Proprietary Information

AUSTIN, Texas -- In the latest wrinkle in Whole Foods' troubled quest to acquire Wild Oats, the supernatural chain sad it is now investigating the release of proprietary business information by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission -- an action that it claims violated a court confidentiality order.

The FTC filed documents electronically that revealed trade secrets belonging to Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and other third parties, according to Whole Foods. A federal District Court judge has ordered that this type of information be sealed.

Among the information contained in the FTC's electronic files is the suggestion that Whole Foods would close 30 or more Wild Oats stores that compete with its own locations if its takeover bid is successful, according to published reports.

Whole Foods said in a statement that it will not have sufficient information, including store-level financial statements, to make any final decisions regarding future operations until the merger is completed. "All information shared with the FTC was done so with the reasonable understanding that it would be handled appropriately," the retailer said.

Earlier this year Whole Foods initiated a takeover bid for Wild Oats. The FTC has asked a federal judge for a temporary injunction to stop the $565 million deal on antitrust concerns.
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