EU Concerns Halt Amazon’s $1.4 Billion Acquisition Bid
Amazon’s proposed $1.4 billion acquisition of Roomba maker iRobot will not be moving forward after all. The companies announced this week they are abandoning the deal in light of intense antitrust scrutiny, particularly from European regulators.
The acquisition was first unveiled in August 2022, immediately drawing skepticism about its impact on competition. By November, the European Commission had raised formal objections. They never specifically prohibited the merger but made clear that securing approval would likely require significant concessions from Amazon.
With the prospect of a forced restructuring and no guarantee of eventual success, Amazon and iRobot decided to pull the plug altogether. The termination fee stipulated in their initial agreement will see Amazon pay iRobot $94 million in the aftermath.
In a strongly-worded statement, Amazon blasted regulators and claimed their interference deprived consumers of innovation and competitive pricing. But the EU has tangled with the retail giant’s acquisitive ambitions before, reaching a settlement in 2022 over Amazon’s handling of third-party seller data.
For iRobot, the collapsed deal triggered immediate financial fallout, including 350 newly announced layoffs representing 31% of the company’s workforce. Longtime CEO Colin Angle has also stepped down from his leadership roles on the board and as chief executive.
In his gracious statement accepting responsibility for the turnover, Angle maintained confidence that iRobot can still thrive independently through its ongoing robotics and home technology innovations. But after almost being acquired by one of tech’s largest giants, the road ahead for the company appears filled with uncertainty.
The scuttled acquisition reiterates Amazon’s struggles to expand its footprint, particularly under close EU examination. But regulators remain wary of letting the company gain even more influence over emerging spaces like robotics. For now, Roomba will continue policing floors free of Amazon ownership. But the next big tech merger attempt surely looms on the horizon.