Whole Foods CEO’s Pseudonymous Postings Endanger Takeover

July 17, 2007 02:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
John Mackey concealed his identity to promote himself and his company on Yahoo Finance stock forums, a legally questionable activity bolstering a Federal Trade Commission case to prevent Whole Foods from purchasing a competitor.

30 Second Summary

The CEO of Whole Foods has been publicly identified as "Rahodeb," a poster on Yahoo Finance Message Boards. For about eight years, John Mackey used that pseudonym to tout Whole Foods' stock and criticize his company's rivals, including Wild Oats.
Now that Whole Foods is looking to acquire Wild Oats, Mackey may pay a heavy price for his suspect self-promotion.
The Federal Trade Commission wants to block the transaction, arguing that the purchase would reduce competition in the market place. Mackey himself has hinted at this, the agency asserted. On one posting, he wrote that "Whole Foods is systematically destroying their [Wild Oats] viability as a business––market by market, city by city."
Mackey's actions have caused analysts and legal professionals to question his ethical fitness as a CEO and the legality of his posting opinions under a nom de plume.
A spokeswoman for Whole Foods stated that Mackey's pseudonymous postings were neither illegal nor against company policy.




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