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Amazon’s iRobot Vac Deal Under Investigation By Feds

The proposed acquisition of Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners by Amazon is facing headwinds with US Federal antitrust enforcers now running a ruler over the iRobot acquisition.

iRobot is distributed by IXL Home and is widely sold in Australia via The Good Guys, Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi.

Yesterday the US Federal Trade Commission requested documents from both companies explaining the proposed US$1.7 billion deal’s purpose and rationale.

The Biden led Government appear to want to nobble big business in the USA and Amazon is in their cross hairs according to observers.

The FTC under Chairwoman Lina Khan is taking a sceptical view of acquisitions by technology giants, saying the deals often hurt competition and give the incumbent firms control over valuable consumer data.

The agency recently sued to block Meta Platforms from acquiring Within Unlimited and its virtual-reality dedicated fitness app, Supernatural.

The latest filing by iRobot claims that both companies would cooperate with the FTC’s investigation and expect to promptly reply to the FTC’s request. After an investigation, which typically takes up to a year, the FTC can sue to block a merger, seek concessions such as divestitures or decline to take action, allowing a deal to close.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment. An iRobot spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The agency also is examining Amazon’s $3.9 billion deal to buy 1Life Healthcare which operates One Medical primary-care clinics in 25 U.S. States.

Amazon says it has been “very good stewards of peoples’ data across all of our businesses” and that it isn’t acquiring iRobot to gather intelligence from inside customers’ homes. The Roomba is a consumer-oriented vacuum cleaner that collects data about its users’ homes using cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

The FTC is separately investigating Amazon’s Prime membership program, according to a legal petition Amazon filed last month. The company has asked the five-member commission to quash subpoenas tied to the probe, saying the FTC staff made excessive demands on founder Jeff Bezos and other company executives.

The commission is due to respond to Amazon’s petition by Wednesday, according to an order made public last week.

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