Reports from the Associated Press suggest that the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey has been involved in some pretty dirty tricks. In fact, under the pseudonym “rahodeb,” the Chief Executive wrote anonymous online attacks against a small rival just before announcing that Whole Foods was interested in acquiring the company this year for $565 million, or $18.50 per share. Only in 2005, “rahodeb” aka big-shot CEO wrote, the company “has no value and no future.”
The company has even acknowledged that their chief was writing the postings on Internet financial forums. The statements made public this week as part of a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission, criticized Wild Oats Markets Inc.’s stock price, which Mackey believed to be overpriced. The comments predicted the company would fall into bankruptcy and then be sold after its stock fell below $5 per share.
A statement issued from Whole Foods however, suggest that the comments were blown out of proportion, “Mr. Mackey made those postings from 1999 to 2006 under an alias to avoid having his comments associated with the company and to avoid others placing too much emphasis on his remarks,” Whole Foods said.
The company added that many of Mackey’s opinions in the postings “now have far less relevance than when they were written. In addition, like most people, Mr. Mackey’s opinion about some things has changed over time.”
Regulators are concerned that the sale would combine two of the largest stores, creating a monopoly and hiking prices for consumers. Unsurprisingly, Mackey has been criticizing the FTC on the Whole Foods blog. Meanwhile, the lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Washington.