SEC opens case on Whole Food's CEO: report

Informal probe announced after organic grocery chain's CEO admitted to posting comments about company and rival's stock on financial chat pages.

NEW YORK ( -- The Securities and Exchange Commission opened an informal inquiry into online posts made under a pseudonym by Whole Food's CEO John Mackey, a newspaper reported Friday.

As antitrust regulators investigate a proposed deal by the Austin, Texas-based organic grocer to buy rival Boulder, Colorado-based Wild Oats (Charts), it was revealed Wednesday that Mackey had made comments in online financial forums allegedly touting Whole Food's (Charts, Fortune 500) stock while allegedly disparaging Wild Oats, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"Whole Foods Market has not been contacted by the SEC, so we cannot comment on speculation," Kate Lowery, Whole Foods spokeswoman said.

The SEC could not be reached for a comment.

Although it is unclear that Mackey broke any laws, it's likely the SEC will investigate whether his comments contradicted or overstated the company's disclosures about its performance, the newspaper said.

The watchdog will also look at whether material corporate information was selectively disclosed in violation of Regulation Fair Disclosure law, the Journal reported. Top of page