iRobot Shares Plummet 17% as EU Warns Amazon’s $1.7 Billion Acquisition “May Restrict Competition

European Commission’s Antitrust Warning Sparks Market Turbulence, Stating Amazon’s Acquisition of iRobot Raises Concerns About Competition in the Robot Vacuum Cleaner Market.

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In a significant market development, iRobot shares experienced a sharp 17% decline on Monday following a warning from the European Union’s antitrust watchdog regarding Amazon’s proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of the Roomba maker. The European Commission, which initiated an in-depth probe into the acquisition in July, expressed its preliminary view that the deal “may restrict competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners.”

The commission is slated to make a ruling on the acquisition by February 14, 2023. Amazon, which has been working with the commission on addressing concerns raised during the probe, emphasized its commitment to fostering innovation and lowering prices for consumers through the acquisition.

Despite facing an in-depth review by the European Commission, the deal is also under scrutiny by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, in June, stated that the acquisition would not lead to “a substantial lessening of competition” in the U.K.

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Amazon’s intention to acquire iRobot was announced in August 2022, with a proposed acquisition price of $61 per share in an all-cash deal. The EU’s announcement on the potential competition concerns follows a significant surge in iRobot shares, rising by 39% on Friday. This surge was prompted by reports indicating that the deal was likely to receive “unconditional EU antitrust approval.”

The European Commission, in its Monday update, highlighted concerns about Amazon’s potential ability to impede iRobot rivals’ access to its online platform. This could be achieved by delisting or reducing the visibility of their products in search results, impacting areas such as the “other products you may like” section on product listings. Officials emphasized that Amazon might have the incentive to “foreclose iRobot’s rivals” for economic gain.

As the situation unfolds, market participants are closely watching the regulatory developments and their potential impact on the proposed acquisition between Amazon and iRobot.