Amazon could get the EU antitrust approval for iRobot acquisition

November 23, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

Amazon could get the EU antitrust approval for its $1.4 billion acquisition of robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot, as advanced by Reuters.

Antitrust authorities worldwide have scrutinized acquisitions of smaller competitors by tech giants, concerned about a few companies amassing vast amounts of data and big players leveraging their dominance to enter new markets.

The European Commission, which acts as the EU's competition regulator, warned Amazon in July that the deal could reduce competition in the robot vacuum cleaner sector and strengthen the U.S. company's dominant position as a provider of online marketplaces.

The commission, due to rule on the deal by Feb. 14, declined to comment. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The deal announced in August would add iRobot's Roomba robot vacuum cleaner to U.S. online retail giant Amazon's portfolio of smart devices, which includes the Alexa voice assistant, smart thermostats, security devices, and intelligent wall-mounted displays.

The British antitrust agency cleared the deal without conditions following a preliminary review.

EU antitrust doesn't trust Amazon 

Earlier this year, Europe had given the first signs that an in-depth investigation might be underway. It was initially intended to elucidate whether the acquisition could adversely affect the privacy of user data. Specifically, the European Commission wanted to know whether Amazon planned to combine the information recorded by iRobot's robot vacuums with that obtained through Alexa.

In July, meanwhile, European regulators opened an in-depth investigation to determine whether the purchase of iRobot would strengthen Amazon in a way that would be anticompetitive for the online retail sector. As indicated, the verdict was to be known this month but was finally delayed until February next year.

The European Commission's go-ahead would not mean the end of scrutiny over the iRobot purchase. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is conducting its own investigation. However, Amazon also remains optimistic about gaining approval in North America. As it became known in the middle of the year, Andy Jassy's firm had already certified "substantial compliance" with the requirements set by the agency headed by Lina Khan.

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