Amazon’s offer of US$42 per share represents a 27% premium to Whole Foods’ closing price on Thursday.
Share prices of numerous U.S. and U.K. supermarket chains including Walmart, Target, Costco and Tesco fell following the announcement.
“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said.
“Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”
Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said the partnership presented an “opportunity to maximize value” for shareholders.
The supermarket chain will continue to operate stores under the Whole Foods Market brand. Mackey will remain as CEO of the entity and its headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas.
Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
The parties expect to close the transaction during the second half of 2017.
Amazon has been branching out into the food sector in recent years and has recently started delivering fresh groceries through its AmazonFresh subsidiary in various countries.