EU antitrust regulator intends to block Amazon’s iRobot acquisition – WSJ

(Reuters) -The European Union’s competition watchdog plans to block’s $1.4 billion acquisition of robot vacuum maker iRobot, The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares of the Roomba vacuum maker plunged nearly 40% to $14.3 in trading after the bell.

WSJ reported that Amazon was informed during its meeting with European Commission’s officials on Thursday that the deal was likely to be rejected.

Amazon declined to comment on the report.

The U.S. tech giant did not offer remedies until the Jan. 10 deadline to address the antitrust regulator’s concerns that the deal could restrict competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners, according to an update on the European Commission website.

“If the objective is to have more competition in the home robotics sector, this makes no sense,” said Matt Schruers, president of tech lobbying group Computer and Communications Industry Association.

“Blocking this deal may well leave consumers with fewer options, and regulators cannot sweep that fact under the rug,” Schruers added.

The e-commerce giant disclosed its plans to buy iRobot in August 2022, as it looks to add to its portfolio of smart devices, which include the Alexa voice assistant, smart thermostats, security devices and wall-mounted smart displays.

The European Commission, which serves as the EU’s competition watchdog, had until Feb. 14 to either approve or reject the deal.

(Reporting by Harshita Mary Varghese and Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Foo Yun Chee in Brussels)