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EU regulators say Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot may harm competition

AP – European regulators said on Monday that Amazon’s proposed acquisition of robot vacuum maker iRobot may harm competition.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm and top antitrust enforcer, said it has informed Amazon of its “preliminary view” regarding the deal following an investigation that began in July.

The news raised investors’ concerns about the acquisition, sending shares in Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot Corp, most famous for the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum, down more than 17 per cent on Monday.

The European regulators raised concerns that the buyout may hinder iRobot’s rivals from effectively competing on Amazon’s marketplace, which they said is an important platform for sales of robot vacuum cleaners in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

If the deal goes through, the commission said Amazon may be incentivised to prevent competitors from selling their products on its marketplace or making it difficult for them to do so. Among other things, it said Amazon could reduce the visibility of a competitor’s product on its marketplace or limit access to certain labels, such as “Amazon’s choice”, that may attract more shoppers. It may also find ways to raise the costs of iRobot’s rivals to advertise and sell their products on its platform, the commission said.

The commission has until February 14 to make a final decision on the deal. And Amazon may respond to some of the objections raised.

An Amazon company logo in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany. PHOTO: AP
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