[funsec] CEO made anonymous attack then bid for firm

Richard M. Smith rms at computerbytesman.com
Thu Jul 12 07:55:21 CDT 2007


CEO made anonymous attack then bid for firm
By Associated Press  |  July 12, 2007

DALLAS -- The chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc. wrote anonymous
online attacks against a smaller rival and questioned why anyone would buy
its stock, before Whole Foods announced an offer to buy the other company
this year.

The postings on Internet financial forums, made under the name "rahodeb,"
said Wild Oats Markets Inc. stock was overpriced. The statements predicted
the company would fall into bankruptcy and then be sold after its stock fell
below $5 per share.

In February, Whole Foods announced it would buy Wild Oats for about $565
million, or $18.50 per share.

The company acknowledged that the postings by "rahodeb" were written by
chief executive John Mackey.

They were made public this week as part of a lawsuit by the Federal Trade
Commission to block Whole Foods from buying Wild Oats on antitrust grounds.
Regulators say the sale would combine the two largest organic and natural
foods retailers and raise prices for consumers by concentrating too much
power in one company.

Austin-based Whole Foods defended Mackey's postings, saying they were being
taken out of context years later.

"Mr. Mackey made those postings from 1999 to 2006 under an alias to avoid
having his comments associated with the company and to avoid others placing
too much emphasis on his remarks," Whole Foods said.

The company added that many of Mackey's opinions in the postings "now have
far less relevance than when they were written."

Whole Foods concluded by saying the comments were Mackey's, not those of the
company.

One posting, from January 2005, questioned why anyone would buy shares of
Wild Oats at their price then of about $8 each, The Wall Street Journal
reported.

Mackey has led an unusually public countercharge to the FTC's attempt to
block his company's purchase of Wild Oats. He has said both companies
compete in a much larger market because many traditional grocers now sell
organic and natural foods.




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