Regulators Interested in Whole Foods CEO's Anonymous Postings

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators are investigating the anonymous online postings Whole Foods' CEO, some of which denigrated a smaller rival grocery chain.

John Mackey's postings over seven years on Internet financial forums at times attacked Wild Oats Markets, calling its stock overpriced and predicting it would fall into bankruptcy and then be sold after its shares dipped below 5 dollars. Whole Foods announced in February that it would buy Wild Oats for around $565 million, or 18-50 a share.

The postings came to light last week as part of a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission to block Whole Foods from buying Wild Oats on antitrust grounds.

It's unclear whether the CEO's broadsides may have violated securities laws.

To make a case for securities-law violations, the regulators would have to prove that Mackey intentionally used his postings to try to manipulate the stock price of Whole Foods or Wild Oats.