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Amazon’s $1.7 Billion Proposed Purchase of Roomba Maker Under FTC Investigation

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WASHINGTON—Federal antitrust enforcers are investigating

Amazon.com Inc.’s


AMZN -1.44%

proposal to buy Roomba maker

iRobot Corp.


IRBT 0.20%

, according to a securities filing.

The Federal Trade Commission this week formally requested documents from both companies explaining the proposed $1.7 billion deal’s purpose and rationale,

iRobot


IRBT 0.20%

disclosed on Tuesday.

The FTC’s review is the latest investigation involving Amazon. The agency also is examining Amazon’s $3.9 billion deal to buy

1Life Healthcare Inc.,

which operates One Medical primary-care clinics in 25 U.S. markets.

The filing by iRobot said both companies would cooperate with the FTC’s investigation and expect to promptly reply to the FTC’s request. After an investigation, which typically takes up to a year, the FTC can sue to block a merger, seek concessions such as divestitures or decline to take action, allowing a deal to close. 

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment. An iRobot spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. 

The FTC under Chairwoman

Lina Khan

is taking a skeptical view of acquisitions by technology giants, saying the deals often hurt competition and give the incumbent firms control over valuable consumer data. The agency recently sued to block

Meta Platforms Inc.

from acquiring Within Unlimited Inc. and its virtual-reality dedicated fitness app, Supernatural.

Amazon says it has been “very good stewards of peoples’ data across all of our businesses” and that it isn’t acquiring iRobot to gather intelligence from inside customers’ homes. The Roomba is a consumer-oriented vacuum cleaner that collects data about its users’ homes using cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The FTC is separately investigating Amazon’s Prime membership program, according to a legal petition Amazon filed last month. The company has asked the five-member commission to quash subpoenas tied to the probe, saying the FTC staff made excessive demands on founder

Jeff Bezos

and other company executives.

The commission is due to respond to Amazon’s petition by Wednesday, according to an order made public last week.

Write to Dave Michaels at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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