Although Amazon announced last week that it would be buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, it’s far from a done deal. And in the time it takes to complete such a large merger, there could be a few other players who decide to belly up to the table and make a bid for the grocery chain.
JPMorgan analysts said in a note to clients today that Walmart could throw in an offer to rival Amazon, drawn by its affluent customers and strong brand identity, reports CNBC. That, and it would throw a serious wrench into Amazon’s plans, to Walmart’s certain delight.
“We do think there is a chance that Walmart makes a bid,” the report said. “WMT stands out as the only company in our coverage with the means and motive to counterbid, but the motive is ultimately more driven by a defensive strategy.”
However, even if Walmart does give it the ol’ college try, it’s not likely to be successful “given Amazon’s war chest of cash/stock and the value of the WFM platform to Amazon.”
Anyway, it’s not like Walmart needs Whole Foods as desperately as Amazon wants it, analysts noted, since it already has more than 20% of the grocery business in the U.S.
Despite the fact that analysts think Walmart has the best chance of going against Amazon in a bidding war, other grocers could step in: Since October of last year, rumors have been swirling that Kroger may be interested in hooking up with Whole Foods, buzz has picked up again on that theme in the days since Amazon’s announcement.
Industry experts said Kroger may still be interested, with a report from a Barclays analyst noting that she “would not be surprised” if Kroger, Walmart, or Target make offers as well, reports the Cincinnati Business Courier.
These retailers wouldn’t necessarily have to win the bididng war, but they could drive up the price Amazon ends up having to pay for Whole Foods when all is said and done.
JPMorgan analysts noted in their report however that what with Whole Foods’ unabashed exuberance over the idea of an Amazon wedding, “We do not think an alternative suitor would evoke the same reaction.”
Whole Foods told CNBC in a statement that it didn’t have anything to add to its story, while a Walmart spokesperson said the retailer wouldn’t speculate on rumors.