Whole Foods Market has confirmed it has been contacted by the US share watchdog over an inquiry into online financial message board postings about the retailer and Wild Oats Markets.

A statement from Whole Foods yesterday (17 July) confirmed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been in touch with the natural and organic retailer over an investigation.

The SEC wants to study postings made by Whole Foods chairman and CEO John Mackey regarding his own company and rival retailer Wild Oats, which Whole Foods is now attempting to acquire.

WFM said it intends “to fully cooperate with the SEC and does not anticipate commenting further while the inquiry is pending”.

The retailer’s board has also formed a committee to conduct an independent internal investigation into the postings. The committee has retained the firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP to advise it during this investigation, and the company said it would also be declining to comment on this investigation until it had been completed.

The flurry of announcements from the Texas-based retailer, which this year opened its first outlet in London, included a contrite statement from Mackey himself.

The company’s co-founder said: “I sincerely apologise to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards. I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me.”