European Union antitrust regulators have halted their investigation into Amazon’s $1.7 billion acquisition of robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot, pending the provision of additional information by the companies.
The European Commission (EC) opened the investigation in December 2022, following concerns that the deal could give Amazon an unfair advantage in the online retail market for robot vacuum cleaners. The EC was specifically concerned that Amazon could use its market power to require iRobot to give it preferential treatment on its platform, or to prevent iRobot from selling its products on other platforms.
In a statement, the EC said that it has “requested additional information from the companies to clarify certain aspects of the transaction.” The EC said that it will resume its investigation once it has received the requested information.
The decision to halt the investigation is a positive development for Amazon and iRobot. However, it’s important to note that the EC may reopen the investigation if it finds the provided information unsatisfactory.
“We are pleased that the European Commission has decided to suspend its investigation into our acquisition of iRobot,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “We believe that this transaction is good for consumers and will help us to continue to innovate and bring new products to market.”
The decision by the EC to halt its investigation is a setback for those who were concerned about the potential anticompetitive effects of the Amazon-iRobot deal. However, it’s important to note that the EC could reopen the investigation if it remains dissatisfied with the provided information.
The decision to halt the investigation also raises questions about the EC’s commitment to enforcing antitrust law in the digital economy. Critics have pointed out that the EC’s sluggishness in investigating and taking action against tech giants like Amazon has raised concerns. Suspending the Amazon-iRobot investigation could signal a reluctance on the EC’s part to confront these tech giants.
The EU antitrust regulators’ choice to suspend their investigation into Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot brings a positive turn for the companies in question. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the investigation might see a reopening if the EC isn’t content with the provided information. This decision also sparks inquiries regarding the EC’s dedication to enforcing antitrust laws in the digital economy.