Amazon.com’s plan to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. sparked an avalanche of discussion about how the online retail giant could transform the U.S. grocery industry in the years ahead.
But Amazon’s $13.7-billion deal might not be the last word on the merger itself.
Wall Street signaled Monday that it expects a rival offer for Whole Foods to surface, and many industry and merger experts agreed.
“Highly likely,” said Lloyd Greif, whose investment firm Greif & Co. specializes in mergers and acquisitions but isn’t involved with Whole Foods. Amazon “didn’t put this out of reach for everybody else” in terms of price, he said.
Amazon agreed to pay $42 for each Whole Foods share under their agreement announced Friday. But in trading Monday, Whole Foods closed at $43.22 a share, up 54 cents on the day, indicating that investors expect a higher offer to arrive.
“We would not be surprised if there is a bidding war” for Whole Foods, the 465-store chain that focuses on natural and organic groceries, analyst Karen Short of Barclays Capital Inc. said in a note to clients Friday.