Amazon’s $1.7 billion iRobot acquisition green-lighted by UK antitrust regulator

    The antitrust regulator of the United Kingdom has given the go-ahead to Amazon’s proposed billion dollars i robots takeover, concluding that the deal “would not raise competition concerns in the UK”

    Amazon first announced plans last August to buy robot vacuum maker iRobot for $1.7 billion, though the megabucks deal would always catch the eye of regulators. The European Commission (EC) will do that decide before July 6 whether to approve the deal (with or without remedies) or launch a full-scale investigation, while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also currently considering an official investigation into the deal.

    The FTC recently gave the green light to Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, though it is reportedly pushing to halt Microsoft’s planned $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision.

    In short, it’s hard to know if Amazon’s iRobot purchase will survive regulators elsewhere, but today’s news from the UK – which recently blocked the Microsoft/Activision deal (subject to appeal) – could be a harbinger of what’s to come elsewhere, given that regulators often work together and share notes in such scenarios. But nothing is certain here.

    “The merging parties will undoubtedly take comfort in the CMA approval, although they also know that the various regulatory authorities are not always fully aligned,” said Alex Haffner, competition partner at UK law firm Fladgate. in a statement issued to

    Modest market share

    Founded some three decades ago from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), iRobot is best known for its Roomba-branded autonomous vacuum cleaners, though it has expanded into related products, including those that can mop floors. For Amazon, which was exploring deeper avenues into the smart home alongside its own home robotics efforts, it came as no great surprise that iRobot fell on its radar.

    The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) first revealed it was looking into the deal in April, but has now determined Amazon’s purchase of iRobot does not harm competition in the UK. market position is “modest” and already has several rivals. But furthermore, concerns that Amazon could use its ubiquitous online marketplace to “disadvantaged” iRobot rivals by downgrading their presence were unfounded, as Amazon “would lack the incentive to do so” as the market for robotic vacuum cleaners in the UK is small.

    If nothing else, today’s UK decision could go a long way in addressing the criticisms the CMA has leveled in recent months at how it blocks merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, particularly involving US companies .

    “The approval decision is a helpful response to allegations, which have become particularly prominent in recent times in light of the Microsoft/Activision acquisition, that the CMA is anti-tech or unnecessarily stifling economic growth in the industry,” Haffner said. “In reality, however, the ‘foundations’ of this deal mean that the CMA’s assessment was much less controversial than in other technology-based cases, particularly given iRobot’s low market share.”

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