The CMA said it is no longer worried the deal will harm competition in the UK. But EU and US regulators are still making up their minds.
Amazon’s $1.7bn bid to buy Roomba maker iRobot has been cleared in the UK after initial competition concerns.
Based in Massachusetts, iRobot designs and builds consumer robots such as popular robot vacuum cleaner Roomba, first launched in 2002. It was founded in 1990 by MIT roboticists Colin Angle, Helen Greiner and Rodney Brooks.
Amazon first announced plans to acquire iRobot last August. Senior vice-president of Amazon Devices, Dave Limp, said at the time that the iRobot team has “proven its ability to reinvent how people clean” with its products.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was initially hesitant to allow the deal to go through because it was concerned the loss of potential competition could be “substantial” and that Amazon could use its market dominance to disadvantage other robot vacuum suppliers.
The CMA was also worried that iRobot vacuum cleaners could be an important input for “smart home” platforms, and that the acquisition could disadvantage Amazon’s smart home rivals.
However, senior director of mergers Colin Raftery confirmed that the CMA is convinced after an investigation that “the deal would have no impact” on competition in the UK.
This is because the CMA believes the UK market for robot vacuum cleaners is small, not expected to grow significantly in the future and of “limited strategic importance”.
“More people are choosing to use ‘smart’ tech in their homes – whether that’s listening to the radio through a smart speaker, answering the door using a video doorbell, or keeping floors clean with robot vacuum cleaners,” Raftery said.
“That’s why it’s important to ensure tech firms that already benefit from powerful positions aren’t able to use those positions to undermine competitors at the expense of UK consumers and businesses.”
While Amazon now has the green signal from the UK, the iRobot deal is still under scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic. According to a European Commission filing earlier this month, EU antitrust regulators will have a decision on the matter by 6 July.
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