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FTC approves Amazon's $13.7B purchase of Whole Foods

Regulators' approval means the e-tailer can go ahead with plans to move further into the $800 billion US grocery market.

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Amazon has received the FTC's approval to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It looks like Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market is all but in the bag as federal regulators said they would allow the $13.7 billion deal to continue.

The decision, announced Wednesday by the US Federal Trade Commission, allows the online retail giant to take its greatest stab yet at the $800 billion US grocery market. By far Amazon's biggest acquisition, the deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

The FTC conducted an investigation of the buyout to determine if the merger would decrease competition under federal antitrust regulations, Bruce Hoffman, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.

The deal, announced in June, provides Amazon with a new upscale brand, after the e-commerce company has made its name as a low-cost online destination. The world's largest e-tailer will now become a major player in physical stores for the first time after dabbling with several store concepts for the past year and a half.

By acquiring the grocery chain, known for its high-end, health-first approach to food, Amazon will get 460 stores in the US, Canada and the UK.

Amazon has said it would let Whole Foods continue operating as its own business, at least for now. A person familiar with the e-tailer's planning previously told CNET the company has no current plans to change its own grocery strategy either and won't be sunsetting the AmazonFresh grocery delivery brand.

Representatives for Amazon and Whole Foods didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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