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Amazon buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

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Amazon is buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, the companies said Friday. 

The deal values the grocer at $42 a share.

Whole Foods (WFM) had been under pressure from investor Jana Partners, a hedge fund that lobbied for the high-end grocer to seek a buyer to reverse declining share price. Shares had been trading at about $33 Thursday.

"This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market's shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers," Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said in a release.

Whole Foods stores will keep operating under the company's brand, according to the release. The deal is expected to finish later this year, if Amazon's shareholders approve it. 

Amazon (AMZN) has been dabbling in the grocery business with Amazon Fresh, a delivery service available in about 20 cities for a $14.99 monthly subscription. But the online retailer has been challenged by logistical issues and shoppers' reluctance to buy food sight unseen, Bloomberg reported.

An Amazon spokesperson promised no layoffs would result from the merger, according to a reporter.

The merger opens up tantalizing possibilities for shoppers, as one person noted online.

But others on Twitter criticized the potential effect on workers from the melding of two large employers who are known to be unfriendly to unions.

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