Jana Partners Sells Whole Foods Stake--Update

By Heather Haddon Features Dow Jones Newswires

Jana Partners LLC, the activist hedge fund whose push to shakeup Whole Foods Market Inc. helped prompt Amazon.com, Inc. to buy the natural grocer, has sold its stake in the company.

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Jana has sold its entire stake in Whole Foods, according to a corporate filing. The hedge fund became Whole Foods's second-largest shareholder in April, amassing a nearly 9% stake and demanding sweeping changes at the troubled grocer as it struggled to improve sales.

Jana wanted to replace board members at Whole Foods board and explore a sale of the company, among other demands. Whole Foods executives bristled at the activist push, helping to spur discussions with Amazon and a deal that officials viewed as more beneficial, according to a corporate filing. Amazon said last month that it plans to purchase Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

Jana made a roughly $300 million profit on its five-month investment, the filing shows. The fund started paring the stake just days after the deal was announced and sold the bulk this week. The sales totaled $1.1 billion, for an average of $41.90 a share, just shy of Amazon's $42 offer. Jana had originally paid about $794.5 million for the full position, it had disclosed.

In the days after the deal with Amazon was announced, Whole Foods' stock continued to climb from the $42 a share Amazon offered on speculation that other bidders would emerge. The stock reached a high of $43.26 on June 21, before steadily falling as no other suitors emerged. The deal is set to close in the second half of the year pending approvals.

Write to Heather Haddon at heather.haddon@wsj.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 19, 2017 17:40 ET (21:40 GMT)