Amazon terminates iRobot deal, Roomba maker to lay off 31% of staff


The iRobot headquarters in Bedford, Massachusetts, US, on Friday, June 16, 2023. Amazon.com Inc.’s proposed $1.7 billion deal to buy robot vacuum firm iRobot Corp. was given the all-clear by the UKs antitrust agency. Photographer: Sophie Park/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Amazon said on Monday it would not move forward with a planned acquisition of vacuum-maker iRobot, with the two companies saying in a release there was “no path to regulatory approval for the deal.”

The Roomba maker also announced it would lay off 31% of its employees, around 350 people, and that its chair and CEO, Colin Angle, would step down effective immediately.

Shares of iRobot fell more than 15% in morning trading on the news.

The fate of the deal was plunged into uncertainty after The Wall Street Journal reported that the European Union would not offer regulatory approval.

The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, launched a probe in July, saying that the proposed deal could result in Amazon hindering iRobot rivals from competing on Amazon’s online marketplace. The commission argued that Amazon could delist or reduce rival products’ prominence in search results or elsewhere.

“We’re disappointed that Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot could not proceed,” David Zapolsky, senior vice president and general counsel at Amazon, said in a release.

iRobot said it would focus on margin improvements, reduce spending on research and development, and pause all work on “non-floorcare” products, including its air purifiers and robotic lawn mowers.

“The termination of the agreement with Amazon is disappointing, but iRobot now turns toward the future with a focus and commitment to continue building thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations that make life better,” iRobot’s Angle said in a release.

Amazon will pay iRobot a previously-agreed-upon $94 million breakup fee. The terminated deal, first announced in 2022, would have originally valued iRobot at roughly $1.7 billion.

The robotic vacuum maker has a market capitalization of under $400 million, following Monday’s news and prior reports that the European Union would move to block the deal.

In July, iRobot entered into a $200 million financing facility from the Carlyle Group, in order to fund the company’s operations as a stopgap until the Amazon deal closed.

Amazon declined to provide a comment beyond the release. The European Commission did not immediately return CNBC’s request for comment.

Regulators around the world have moved to scrutinize large technology companies, citing potential anti-competitive effects. Amazon is also one of the subjects of an FTC inquiry into the investments and partnerships between big tech and AI developers such as Anthropic and OpenAI.

In Europe, both Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority and the EU’s European Commission have delayed or halted several deals. Those include Meta’s already-consummated acquisition of Giphy, Adobe‘s terminated acquisition of Figma and Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI, as well as Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

— CNBC’s Annie Palmer contributed reporting.

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