Sale of Whole Foods will ben­e­fit board

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM -

AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Mar­ket ex­ec­u­tives and in­sid­ers will make mil­lions of dol­lars if reg­u­la­tors and share­hold­ers ap­prove the Texas com­pany’s $13.7 bil­lion merger with Ama­zon.

In­sid­ers at Whole Foods — a group that in­cludes cur­rent and for­mer ex­ec­u­tives, and board mem­bers — stand to take home at least $171 mil­lion in eq­uity once the merger closes, the com­pany dis­closed in reg­u­la­tory fil­ings.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and co-founder John Mackey will get more than $41 mil­lion of that money.

The Austin-based or­ganic gro­cery chain’s top six ex­ec­u­tives, ex­clud­ing Mackey, will au­to­mat­i­cally be able to cash in more than $53.7 mil­lion in shares they al­ready own, as well as re­stricted stock and op­tions that would au­to­mat­i­cally vest upon the merger’s close, ex­pected be­fore the end of the year, ac­cord­ing to a San An­to­nio Ex­press-News anal­y­sis.

Five of those ex­ec­u­tives could get up to $16.7 mil­lion in ad­di­tional pay­ments if Ama­zon ter­mi­nates them or they re­sign for “good rea­son” within two years of the merger, the com­pany dis­closed in a new fil­ing Fri­day.

So far, Whole Foods isn’t pre­par­ing for a shake-up to its ex­ec­u­tive team. The com­pany told in­vestors in June that Mackey would re­main CEO and no changes are planned for the gro­cer’s lead­er­ship af­ter the merger fi­nal­izes. The chain will con­tinue to op­er­ate un­der the Whole Foods ban­ner, both com­pa­nies said at the time.

A Whole Foods spokesman re­fused to com­ment, and an Ama­zon spokesman did not re­spond to an email re­quest­ing com­ment.

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