A federal court issued a temporary injunction yesterday preventing Whole Foods from buying Wild Oats—at least today. The three-judge panel wants extra time to consider the FTC's argument that combining the nation's two largest organic food retailers would destroy competition. The companies will file additional briefs by tomorrow, and the FTC will have a day to rebut.
The accelerated timetable suggests that that the FTC's appeal is "on its last gasp," a lawyer involved in the case tells Bloomberg. The companies were about to finalize the $565 million deal yesterday when the injunction, which the judges said "should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits," came down.