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Technology

UK Clears Amazon's $1.7 bln Deal For Roomba-Maker iRobot

By Reuters
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Britain's competition regulator on Friday cleared Amazon.com Inc's planned $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) acquisition of iRobot Corp, maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had concluded that the deal would not lead to competition concerns in the UK.

Smart-Home Devices

"We're pleased with the UK Competition and Markets Authority's decision and are committed to supporting regulatory bodies in their work," a spokesperson for Amazon said. "We look forward to similar decisions from other regulators soon."

In April, the CMA had launched a "Phase 1" probe into the deal which was announced in August last year as Amazon sought to expand its stable of smart-home devices, which include the Alexa voice assistant, smart thermostats, security devices, wall mounted smart displays and a canine-like robot called Astro.

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are wary of Big Tech acquiring smaller rivals, especially those with access to big volumes of user data, and tend to demand remedies in return for approving such deals.

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'Significant Milestone'

"It marks a significant milestone, and both companies are continuing to work cooperatively with other relevant regulators in their review of the merger," iRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle said in a statement.

The news sent shares in US-listed iRobot up 18%, while Amazon's stock was down 1.2%.

"In reality though, the 'fundamentals' of this deal means that the CMA's assessment was far less controversial than in other tech based cases given in particular iRobot's low market share," said Alex Haffner, competition partner at UK law firm Fladgate.

iRobot Deal

Meanwhile, EU antitrust regulators will decide by July 6 whether to clear the deal.

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The US Federal Trade Commission, which is widely expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com, is also looking at the iRobot deal. The online retailer has confirmed that it has complied with the agency's document demands but has declined to comment on timing.

When Amazon.com closed a previous deal, its $3.5 billion (€3.2 billion) takeover of primary care provider One Medical in February, the FTC sent a warning letter citing specific concerns about the transaction but took no future steps.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM – your source for the latest technology news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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