Thursday, September 29, 2022
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FTC Investigating Amazon’s $1.7 Billion Acquisition of Roomba Maker iRobot

On Monday, the FTC requested more information from both companies about the $1.7 billion settlement, according to a investor presentation from iRobot, in what is known as a “second request” and an indicator of deeper scrutiny by antitrust officials.

The investigation highlights how FTC officials are closely reviewing Amazon’s merger activity following calls from consumer advocates for the iRobot deal to be blocked.

Earlier this month, more than two dozen groups wrote to the agency alleging that the deal could help Amazon “secure its monopoly power in the digital economy.” For starters, they argued, Amazon could try to sell Roombas at a loss or in connection with its Prime subscription service and potentially put other smart vacuum makers out of business. In addition, they claimed, Amazon’s control of Roombas could give it access to detailed data on consumer home designs, interiors and lifestyles that could benefit its e-commerce business at the expense of rivals who don’t. they have access to that treasure trove of data.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the FTC investigation.

In addition to the iRobot deal, the FTC also sent a second request regarding Amazon’s proposed acquisition of health care provider One Medical for $3.9 billion, according to a separate investor filing this month. Second FTC requests can lengthen merger closing times because they prohibit deals from being consummated until the companies have complied with regulators’ demands for information.

Amazon has previously called that FTC Chair Lina Khan refrain from all cases involving the company, saying its past as a vocal critic of the tech industry should disqualify it. The FTC has previously declined to comment on that request.

In 2017, Khan published an influential article in the Yale Law Journal that highlighted potential antitrust concerns regarding Amazon. The document is widely credited with starting a national debate about US antitrust law and whether it is enough to hold Big Tech platforms accountable.

Last month, the FTC Announced is considering drafting new regulations for US companies that could limit how they collect, use and share consumers’ personal information. The regulations could affect companies across the economy, including Amazon.

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