Amazon called off its acquisition of robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot on Monday, blaming “undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles” after the European Union said it opposed the deal.
In a joint statement, the two companies said they were disappointed but agreed to terminate the acquisition. The deal has come under antitrust scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, the scrutiny has been most intense in Europe, where regulators investigating competition issues are expected to make a final decision by Feb. 14.
Amazon announced in 2022 that it would acquire iRobot, maker of round Roomba vacuum cleaners, for $1.7 billion in cash. However after iRobot took on new debt, the deal’s value fell by 15%.
Amazon will pay the Bedford, Massachusetts-based company a previously agreed termination fee of $94 million, iRobot said in a separate announcement, which also disclosed that iRobot would cut about 31 percent of its workforce and that its chief executive would leave.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm and top antitrust enforcer gave Amazon a “preliminary opinion” last year that the acquisition of iRobot would harm competition in the industry.
While British antitrust regulators approved the acquisition in June, it still faces scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.
The European Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The European Commission has been concerned that Amazon would reduce the visibility of iRobot’s competitors’ products or restrict the use of certain labels, such as “Amazon’s Choice,” to attract more shoppers.
The commission said last year that Amazon could also find ways to make it more expensive for iRobot’s competitors to advertise and sell products on its platform.
Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky blasted regulators, saying consumers would lose out on “faster innovation and more competitive prices.”
“Mergers like this help companies like iRobot better compete in the global marketplace, especially against companies and countries that are not subject to the same regulatory requirements in rapidly evolving technology areas like robotics.”
“Inappropriate and disproportionate regulatory barriers discourage entrepreneurs who should see acquisitions as a path to success, hurting both consumers and competition – the very thing regulators say they are protecting,” he added.
Now that the deal has been called off, iRobot said it will implement a restructuring plan aimed at stabilizing the company. As part of these changes, the company will cut about 350 jobs.
Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, will also step down. Glen Weinstein, executive vice president and chief legal officer, will serve as interim chief executive officer.
Consumer advocacy groups had raised concerns about Amazon’s deal with iRobot, arguing that it would extend the e-commerce giant’s dominance in the smart home market.
Amazon has acquired other smart home companies, including home security camera maker Blink, doorbell camera maker Ring, and mesh Wi-Fi company Eero.
It is the latest example of a deal involving a US company falling apart after facing scrutiny from European regulators.
Last year, Adobe abandoned plans to buy online design company Figma for $20 billion due to antitrust reviews in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Biotech giant Illumina has lost legal battles with antitrust enforcers in Europe and the United States, forcing it to cancel its planned $7.1 billion acquisition of cancer screening company Grail.