U.K. Antitrust Regulator Clears Amazon's IRobot Acquisition

Amazon’s (AMZN) proposed acquisition of robot vacuum maker iRobot for $1.7 billion has received approval from the U.K.’s antitrust regulator.

The regulator concluded that the deal would not raise competition concerns in the U.K. Amazon announced its plans to purchase iRobot in August last year, and it was expected that the large-scale deal would face regulatory scrutiny. The European Commission is set to make a decision on the deal by July 6, while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also considering whether to launch an official investigation.

The recent approval of Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical by the FTC suggests a possibility of regulatory clearance for the iRobot deal. However, the FTC is reportedly seeking to halt Microsoft’s planned $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision. It remains uncertain whether the iRobot purchase by Amazon will pass regulatory scrutiny in other jurisdictions.

The U.K.’s decision to clear the deal could serve as an indication of the approach regulators may take elsewhere, as regulatory agencies often cooperate and share information. Nonetheless, the outcome of the deal in other regions remains uncertain.

iRobot, founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) three decades ago, is well-known for its autonomous vacuum cleaners under the Roomba brand. While iRobot has expanded into other products, including floor-mopping devices, the company’s focus on the smart home market caught Amazon’s attention. Amazon has been seeking to deepen its presence in the smart home sector and has shown interest in home robotics, making the iRobot acquisition a logical move.

The CMA initially announced its scrutiny of the deal in April but has now determined that Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot would not harm competition in the U.K. The CMA’s assessment is partly based on iRobot’s modest market position in the U.K. and the presence of several competitors. Concerns that Amazon might disadvantage iRobot’s rivals by downgrading their presence on its online marketplace were dismissed, as the U.K. robot vacuum cleaner market is relatively small, and Amazon lacks the incentive to do so.

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