It appeared as though Amazon was about to overtake the consumer robotics sector after striking a blockbuster agreement to buy Roomba manufacturer iRobot in August. However, Politico stated earlier this month that the deal needs finalized approval from the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC’s inquiry has just been underway for a few weeks, but it already seems like it will require a lot of back and forth, like a Roomba in a dusty basement. For example, the FTC stated in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that further details are required before it can approve Amazon’s request.
The FTC asks for “any solicitation material published, transmitted, or supplied to security holders,” according to a federal regulation cited in the petition. The FTC is asking for additional information about the agreement “despite mounting concerns” about Amazon’s “market strength,” the Associated Press reports. The inquiry into other recent Amazon blockbuster transactions, such as its acquisition of One Medical, appears to be ongoing at the same time as the FTC’s apparent consideration of the iRobot acquisition.
According to Reuters, approximately 20 labor and privacy groups alerted authorities to the buyout and requested their intervention, prompting the FTC to launch its probe. One of their main worries is that consumer robotics like the well-liked Roombas from iRobot and others could provide Amazon with even more data when it already rules the retail market, allowing it to stifle rivals further.
Both Amazon and iRobot intend to assist the FTC’s probe, according to a filing made today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. iRobot sent Ars to its investor page, which lists all of its SEC filings, while Amazon declined to respond to Ars.
Although much attention is on what Amazon gains from the acquisition, iRobot shared with employees and contractors what they anticipate to gain in another SEC filing: In a letter to employees, iRobot stated, “Amazon offers an imaginative, customer-centric, long-term oriented culture where entrepreneurs thrive.” “By being a part of the Amazon family, we will be given the tools and technology to accelerate our companies and satisfy customers.”
The transaction can only be completed once the FTC’s inquiry is finished.
Then, according to AP, the FTC may decide to pursue legal action to try to stop the takeover, pursue remedies from the tech companies, or take no action and allow the deal to go as scheduled, depending on the information supplied.
To Ars, the FTC declined to respond. However, the corporations are preparing for a potentially drawn-out, complicated investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the analysis, Politico wrote in an earlier piece on the investigation’s anticipated schedule.