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Amazon buys iRobot vacuum cleaner for around $1.7 billion | Tech News

By HALELUYA HADERO

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon announced Friday that it has agreed to acquire vacuum cleaner maker iRobot for about $1.7 billion, picking up another company to add to its collection of smart home appliances amid broader concerns about the firm’s market power.

iRobot sells its products worldwide and is best known for the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum cleaner, which would join voice assistant Alexa, Astro robot and Ring security cameras in the giant’s list of smart home features. Seattle-based e-commerce and technology company. .

Amazon said it will acquire iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction that will include iRobot’s net debt. The company has total current debt of approximately $332.1 million as of July 2. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. In the end, iRobot CEO Colin Angle will remain in his post.

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Also on Friday, iRobot released its quarterly results. Revenue fell 30% due to order cuts and delays, and the company announced it was laying off 10% of its workforce.

Shares of iRobot rose 19% in morning trading. Those of Amazon fell 1.4%.

Founded in 1990 by a trio of Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists, including Angle, iRobot’s early ventures led to rovers capable of performing military and disaster relief tasks following the 9/11 attacks. .

Profits from defense contracts allowed iRobot to experiment with a variety of other robots, producing misfires and a huge commercial success: the first Roomba, introduced in 2002, which pioneered the automated vacuum cleaner market.

The company spun off its defense robotics division in 2016 to become almost exclusively a seller of vacuum cleaners and a few other home robots, like the Braava robotic mop. It planned to launch a robotic lawnmower in 2020 but backtracked, citing pandemic issues.

The purchase of iRobot is Amazon’s fourth-biggest acquisition, led by its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods in 2017.

The deal comes as monopoly advocates continue to raise concerns about Amazon’s growing dominance. Last month, Amazon announced it would buy primary care provider One Medical in a deal valued at around $3.9 billion, a move that broadened its reach into healthcare.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who heads the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Committee, urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the acquisition, as did other critics who called on regulators to block the acquisition. purchase due to concerns about the company’s past conduct and potential implications for consumer health data. Regulators also have the discretion to challenge Amazon’s $8.5 billion takeover of Hollywood studio MGM, which was finalized earlier this year.

AP Technology Editor Matt O’Brien contributed to this report from Providence, Rhode Island.

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