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Whole Foods Market is facing more pressure from its investors, as another major stakeholder is pushing for a potential sale of the Austin, Texas-based grocer.
Mutual-fund manager Neuberger Berman, which holds a 2.4 percent share in the grocer, has urged its board to “immediately engage advisors” to review their options, including a sale or joint venture, The Wall Street Journal has reported. The push came from a letter sent to Whole Foods’ board by the New York-based firm.
The news came after a report that New York-based investment firm Jana Partners and several food retail experts purchased a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods, collectively making them the chain's second-largest investor. The group intends to hold discussions with Whole Foods' board and management regarding several topics – from changing the makeup of the board and management to advancing brand development and addressing deficiencies in areas such as customer loyalty, analytics and other digital and technological capabilities.
Speculation that Kroger may be mulling a bid for the troubled natural and organic grocer was followed by a report from the Financial Times that Boise, Idaho-based grocery company Albertsons could be planning to throw its hat in the ring for the grocer. Amazon.com, too, could still be in the mix of potential buyers, even after the Seattle-based company considered a takeover of the chain last fall but did not follow through with the deal.