FTC launches investigation into Amazon’s proposed $1.7B iRobot acquisition

The US Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into the proposed acquisition of iRobot Corp. initiated by Amazon.com Inc. for $1.7 billion.

The investigation was published by iRobot in a regulatory filing that became public today.

Nasdaq-listed iRobot develops the popular Roomba line of robot vacuums. It also sells robot mops under the Braava brand, as well as a range of other products including air purifiers. The company’s robots can dodge obstacles, clean under furniture, and recharge their batteries automatically.

Consumers have purchased more than 40 million Roomba systems since iRobot first introduced the line in 2002. Last Quarter, iRobot generated Revenue of $255.4 million, of which $225 million is from flagship Roomba. The company shipped a total of 766,000 Roomba systems and 99,000 robot mops during the quarter.

According to iRobot’s filing for approval released today, the FTC Monday asked both Amazon and iRobot to provide “additional information and documentation” about the proposed acquisition. The agency made the application in connection with an antitrust review of the deal. The filing said both Amazon and iRobot expect to promptly respond to the request and “work cooperatively” with the FTC.

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FTC investigations into such deals are reported to last up to a year. After completing an investigation, the agency can file a lawsuit to block a takeover or demand concessions from the companies involved in the transaction. The FTC may also elect to allow a transaction to close under the original terms of the acquisition.

The FTC’s investigation into the proposed acquisition of iRobot begins a few months after the agency filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Meta Platforms Inc.’s purchase of Within Unlimited Inc., a Los Angeles-based virtual reality application developer. to block. Meta has agreed to buy the company for $400 million earlier this year.

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If it receives regulatory approval, Amazon’s proposed acquisition of iRobot will position the company as a leading player in the home robotics market. Amazon is already present in this market with Astro, an Alexa-enabled home robot that launched last year. The company also competes in the broader smart home market with its Echo and Ring portfolios of connected devices.

The proposed Roomba purchase is one of two robotics-related acquisitions Amazon has announced in recent quarters. Earlier this month, the online retail and cloud computing giant signed a deal Buy The Belgian machine manufacturer Cloostermans-Huwaert NV. Cloostermans develops and manufactures systems such as storage robots.

Amazon has deployed more than 520,000 warehouse robots across its supply chain over the past decade, the company announced in connection with its Cloostermans acquisition. The acquisition will support Amazon’s warehouse automation efforts. Potentially, Cloostermans’ robot design and manufacturing expertise could also benefit Amazon’s home robotics business.

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Amazon is one of several big tech companies working to establish a larger presence in the robotics market. Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google LLC, in July started a new company, Intrinsic, focused on making industrial robots easier and more affordable to use. Nvidia Corp. again today debuted a new computing module optimized for running autonomous machines that require the ability to run embedded artificial intelligence software.

Image: iRobot

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