Amazon to defend iRobot buy at Dec 18 EU hearing, source says

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Amazon will defend its $1.4 billion purchase of robot vacuum maker iRobot at a closed EU hearing on Dec. 18, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said, three weeks after EU antitrust regulators said the deal may squeeze out rival robot cleaners on its online marketplace.

Companies usually take the opportunity to plead their case before senior officials from the European Commission and national regulators as well as lawyers.

The EU competition enforcer last month sent Amazon a charge sheet laying out its concerns about the deal, after its lawyers revised their initial position against sending a document because they did not see any anti-competitive harm in the deal.

Amazon declined to comment and reiterated comments issued after it got the EU charge sheet, namely that it can offer a company like iRobot the resources to accelerate innovation and invest in critical features while lowering prices for consumers.

The company may have to offer remedies to address competition concerns.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Jason Neely)