In a closed-door hearing scheduled for December 18, Amazon is set to defend its $1.4 billion acquisition of robot vacuum maker iRobot in front of senior officials from the European Commission and national regulators. This comes three weeks after EU antitrust regulators expressed concerns that the deal could potentially stifle competition by squeezing out rival robot cleaners from Amazon’s online marketplace.
The European Union’s competition enforcers had initially refrained from sending a charge sheet to Amazon, citing a lack of perceived anti-competitive harm. However, a subsequent revision by the legal team led to the issuance of the charge sheet outlining the specific concerns surrounding the acquisition.
At the heart of the matter is the worry that Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot could lead to a monopoly in the market for robot vacuum cleaners on the e-commerce giant’s platform. This has prompted regulatory scrutiny as authorities seek to ensure fair competition and prevent any potential harm to consumers and competing businesses.
Amazon, however, remains steadfast in its position. The tech giant declined to comment specifically on the upcoming hearing but reiterated its stance, previously articulated after receiving the EU charge sheet. In its earlier statement, Amazon asserted that the acquisition provides iRobot with the necessary resources to expedite innovation, invest in crucial features, and simultaneously reduce prices for consumers.
The closed-door hearing is expected to provide Amazon with an opportunity to present its case, addressing the concerns raised by EU antitrust regulators. Companies typically use such hearings to plead their cases before officials and legal experts, aiming to convince regulators that the acquisition will not result in any anti-competitive consequences.
As the December 18 hearing approaches, industry stakeholders and observers will be closely monitoring the proceedings for insights into the future of the Amazon-iRobot deal and its potential implications for competition in the robot vacuum cleaner market within the European Union.