Robotics

Amazon lowers iRobot purchase price by 15% amid regulatory delays

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iRobot's logo as seen at their headquarters in Bedford, Massachusetts
Image Credits: Sophie Park/Bloomberg / Getty Images

Amazon is lowering its acquisition price for robotic vacuum-maker iRobot, after the duo have hit regulatory snags trying to get the deal over the line.

The e-commerce giant announced plans to acquire iRobot last August in an all-cash deal worth $1.7 billion, equating to around $61 per share. Now, Amazon has said that it’s amending its bid to $51.75, roughly 15% lower than its initial offer.

The reason stems from the ongoing antitrust headwinds that companies have faced both domestically and in Europe, which has seemingly impacted iRobot’s bottom line. Indeed, iRobot has said that it is having to raise $200 million in debt to “fund its ongoing operations,” a debt that Amazon will take on when (or if) the deal finally closes — and that is why it has tabled a new lower bid for iRobot.

“We’ve reached an amended agreement with Amazon that reflects the incurrence of iRobot’s new debt,” iRobot CEO Colin Angle said in a statement. “iRobot is taking on new financing that we believe is sufficient to support our operations in a hyper competitive environment and meet our liquidity needs as well as pay off iRobot’s existing debt.”

Scrutiny

Amazon’s megabucks iRobot deal was always likely to attract regulatory scrutiny. While the U.K. finally approved the acquisition last month, the European Commission (EC) confirmed a few weeks later that it would be pushing ahead with a more in-depth probe — this won’t be resolved until November at the very earliest. In the U.S., meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also mulling an official investigation into the deal.

There could be any number of twists and turns before this acquisition finally clears. Europe recently greenlighted both Microsoft’s Activision acquisition and Broadcom’s VMware acquisition following in-depth probes, a sign that the Bloc is keen to seek remedies rather than block deals outright. In the U.S., meanwhile, a judge recently ruled that the FTC can’t block the Microsoft / Activision merger, despite its best efforts.

It seems more likely than not that Amazon’s iRobot acquisition will get over the line, assuming it can convince regulators that it won’t restrict competition in the robotic vacuum cleaner market.

However, with today’s news, the merger now has another hurdle to circumvent — convincing iRobot’s shareholders to agree to the revised price. The new offer represents a premium of just 2% on iRobot’s trading price before Amazon swooped in last August, down from the 20% premium shareholders originally agreed to.

However, the deal is so far down the road now, it would seem unlikely that shareholders would block the deal at this juncture.

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