FTC requests more information on Amazon-iRobot deal

FTC requests more information on Amazon-iRobot deal

The Federal Trade Commission wants to take a closer look at Amazon’s $1.7 billion takeover of Roomba maker iRobot, delaying an acquisition process that has no expected closing date in sight.

Both Bedford-based iRobot Corp. (Nasdaq: IRBT) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) received a request for additional information Monday from the FTC in connection with the agency’s review of the deal, according to public documents dated Tuesday. The request extends the waiting period imposed by antitrust regulations; such a request is “basically where a formality turns into an investigation,” according to Protocol.

iRobot redirected questions to Amazon. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment on the FTC’s request, and did not provide an updated timeline for the closing of the deal.

Amazon announced plans to buy iRobot in an all-cash deal last month. The e-commerce behemoth said it didn’t have a timeline for the closing of the deal at that time, noting that the two companies will continue to operate independently in the meantime.

On Monday, the companies received the so-called “second request,” according to a regulatory filing — an optional step in the merger review process that prevents the companies from completing their deal until they have “substantially complied” and observed a second waiting period, according to the FTC.

“A Second Request typically asks for business documents and data that will inform the agency about the company’s products or services, market conditions where the company does business, and the likely competitive effects of the merger,” the FTC site reads. Interviews with company staffers may also be requested.

After the companies have provided the requested information, the FTC has 30 days to make the call on how to proceed: it can let the deal move forward, or ask for provisions to protect competition, or seek to stop the deal from happening altogether.

Among the concerns the FTC is investigating is whether the data generated about a consumer’s home by iRobot’s Roomba vacuum will give it an unfair advantage over a wide variety of other retailers, according to a report by Politico.

The FTC is also scrutinizing another big Amazon’s deal: the $3.9 billion acquisition of OneMedical, announced just before the planned acquisition of iRobot.

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