Amazon terminates takeover of iRobot over EU regulatory issues

Amazon and robot vacuum cleaner firm iRobot have agreed to terminate their planned merger in the face of opposition from EU competition regulators.

Amazon had agreed a proposed 1.7 billion US dollar (around £1.3 billion) acquisition of the robot firm in August 2022.

But, in November 2023, the European Commission said its preliminary view of the deal was it could harm competition for iRobot’s rivals on Amazon’s online marketplace, particularly in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The investigation said it had concerns that Amazon could reduce the visibility of competitor products on its marketplace if the deal went through.

UK regulators had previously approved the deal.

Despite talks with the EU over its concerns, Amazon and iRobot confirmed the agreement to terminate the deal, saying there is no path to regulatory approval in the European Union.

David Zapolsky, Amazon senior vice president and general counsel, said: “We’re disappointed that Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot could not proceed.

“We’re believers in the future of consumer robotics in the home and have always been fans of iRobot’s products, which delight consumers and solve problems in ways that improve their lives.

“Amazon and iRobot were excited to see what our teams could build together, and we’re deeply grateful to everyone who worked tirelessly to try and make this collaboration a reality.

“This outcome will deny consumers faster innovation and more competitive prices, which we’re confident would have made their lives easier and more enjoyable.

“Mergers and acquisitions like this help companies like iRobot better compete in the global marketplace, particularly against companies, and from countries, that aren’t subject to the same regulatory requirements in fast-moving technology segments like robotics.

“Undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles discourage entrepreneurs, who should be able to see acquisition as one path to success, and that hurts both consumers and competition – the very things that regulators say they’re trying to protect.”

iRobot is best known for its Roomba range of robotic vacuum cleaners.

The firm’s founder, Colin Angle, said: “iRobot is an innovation pioneer with a clear vision to make consumer robots a reality.

“The termination of the agreement with Amazon is disappointing, but iRobot now turns toward the future with a focus and commitment to continue building thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations that make life better, and that our customers around the world love.”

The companies said the termination agreement resolved all outstanding matters from the transaction, including Amazon paying iRobot a previously agreed termination fee.