Under pressure from EU, Amazon cancels deal to buy iRobot

Amazon has announced it would not be going ahead with the previously agreed purchase of iRobot, citing objections from the European Union.

Amazon is an American corporation. iRobot is an American builder of autonomous cleaning devices. But it’s the European Commission and its competition watchdog that’s stopping Amazon’s bid to purchase iRobot, a builder of autonomous cleaning devices such as Roomba.

First, competition officials from the Commission met with representatives from Amazon in mid-January and told them that the $1.7 million bid – agreed in August 2022 – was likely to be rejected.

Earlier, the Commission formally raised concerns about the deal, saying it could restrict competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners. For instance, Amazon could prevent iRobot’s rivals from selling their products on the company’s marketplace.

Now, Amazon has given up, citing precisely these difficulties in the EU’s regulatory approval process and – it’s a classic – lamenting “a loss for consumers, competition, and innovation.”

In a press release, Amazon and iRobot announced that they have entered into a mutual agreement to terminate their previously announced acquisition agreement.

“We’re disappointed that Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot could not proceed,” said David Zapolsky, Amazon’s senior vice president and general counsel. “This outcome will deny consumers faster innovation and more competitive prices, which we’re confident would have made their lives easier and more enjoyable.”

Colin Angle, who founded iRobot back in 1990, didn’t sound so devastated, though. He said: “The termination of the agreement with Amazon is disappointing, but iRobot now turns toward the future with a focus and commitment to continue building thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations.”

The deal was cleared by the United Kingdom’s competition regulators in June. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has still been investigating the acquisition, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But the European Commission earlier said it was defending European consumers who rely on Amazon “both in terms of product discovery as well as for their final purchasing decision.”

“Amazon may have the ability to foreclose iRobot's rivals because Amazon's online marketplace is a particularly important channel to sell robot vacuum cleaners in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain,” explained the Commission.

Amazon is being targeted more often by antitrust regulators around the world lately. In September, the FTC sued the online retail giant, claiming that it maintains an illegal monopoly.

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