A big time merger of two giants. Amazon and Whole Foods Market are merging. Amazon execs have announced they are buying Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion in cash.

The Whole Foods Markets will continue to operate as independent entities.

The deal is expected to close during the second half of this year.

Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey is expected to stay on as CEO and the company headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas.

Mackey issued this statement today:

This purchase is a partnership with Amazon, rather than any sort of takeover. This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market's shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,

 

This represents Amazon's largest acquisition, after the company's purchase of Zappos in 2009 for just over $1 billion.

The Shreveport Whole Foods store on Fern Avenue opened in November of last year and has been quite successful so far. A company news release says the "local store features everything from fresh produce, meat and seafood to a large grocery section of staple items, including an expansive bulk grains and nuts section. We have a large variety of prepared foods and bakery items for your convenience, as well as a full-service coffee and juice bar."

This purchase pushes Amazon immediate brick-and-mortar access to a large sector of consumers.