Οι ρυθμιστικές αρχές της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης έστειλαν στην Amazon μια επίσημη δήλωση αντιρρήσεων που εκφράζει ανησυχίες σχετικά με τον ανταγωνισμό σχετικά με την προτεινόμενη εξαγορά του ρομπότ iRobot.
Το βήμα δεν επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ΕΕ θα επιδιώξει να μπλοκάρει τη συμφωνία, αλλά δείχνει ότι οι ρυθμιστικές αρχές της antitrustof legislation remain concerned. As such, it could prompt Amazon to offer remedies to EU authorities to settle the investigation and avoid the risk of the takeover being blocked.
Amazon has already slashed its acquisition price for iRobot — which was originally a $1,7 billion offer in August 2022 — by 15% because of the increased debt its target has taken on, while regulatory difficulties have delayed the closing of the agreement at the original purchase price.
The bloc has been closely scrutinizing the Amazon-iRobot deal since July, when the EU announced its in-depth investigation. The Commission said at the time that it was concerned that the transaction would allow Amazon to limit competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners (RVCs) and strengthen its position as an online marketplace provider in several ways.
Today's EU announcement, after several months of in-depth review looking at how the transaction might affect competition, raises formal concerns for Amazon to respond to. The EU's objections focus on the risks of exclusion.
Η ΕΕ λέει ότι οι ανησυχίες της επικεντρώνονται στο εάν η συμφωνία θα δώσει στην Amazon τη δυνατότητα και το κίνητρο να αποκλείσει τους αντιπάλους της iRobot αναπτύσσοντας στρατηγικές που στοχεύουν να emοδίσουν τους ανταγωνιστές να πουλήσουν RVC στην αγορά της Amazon ή/και να τους δυσκολέψουν να το κάνουν – όπως η διαγραφή ανταγωνιστικά προϊόντα? μείωση της ορατότητάς τους τόσο στα μη πληρωμένα (δηλαδή οργανικά) όσο και στα επί πληρωμή αποτελέσματα (δηλ. διαφημίσεις) που εμφανίζονται στην αγορά του· τον περιορισμό της πρόσβασής τους σε ορισμένα γραφικά στοιχεία που λειτουργεί (όπως η λειτουργία «άλλα προϊόντα που μπορεί να σας αρέσουν») ή «ορισμένες εμπορικά ελκυστικές ετικέτες προϊόντων» (π.χ. «επιλογή της Amazon» ή «Λειτουργεί με την Alexa»). και/ή αυξάνοντας άμεσα ή έμμεσα το κόστος των αντιπάλων της iRobot για τη διαφήμιση και την πώληση των RVC τους στην αγορά της.
"Amazon may be able to foreclose iRobot's competitors because Amazon's online marketplace is a particularly important channel for the sale of RVCs in France, Germany, Italy and Spain," the Commission wrote in a Press release. "RVC customers in these countries rely heavily on Amazon for both product discovery and their final purchase decision."
The Commission is also concerned that Amazon may have an incentive to exclude iRobot's competitors because it may be economically profitable for it to do so. “The merged entity would likely gain more from additional sales of iRobot RVCs than it would lose from fewer sales of iRobot's rivals and other related products on Amazon. Such profits include benefits from additional data collected by iRobot users,” he suggests.
If Amazon implements such foreclosure strategies, the Commission's view at this stage of the investigation is that it could limit competition in the market for RVCs, leading to "higher prices, lower quality and less innovation for consumers".
The EU came to this step to raise formal concerns after conducting what it describes as "broad research to understand the market and the potential impact of the deal", which it says included an analysis of internal documents provided by Amazon and the iRobot and gathering opinions from market participants such as suppliers of RVCs and other smart home devices, as well as online sales channel providers.
It also states that it has worked closely with other competition authorities during both the initial and in-depth investigations, adding that it will continue to do so during the remainder of the in-depth investigation. Although the UK competition authority had already cleared the deal in June.
Amazon reached out for a response to the EU statement of objections. A company representative sent us this statement in which it claims iRobot faces "intense competition" from other RVC suppliers:
We continue to work through the process with the European Commission and focus on addressing their questions and any concerns identified at this stage. Facing stiff competition from other vacuum cleaner vendors, iRobot offers practical and inventive products. We believe Amazon can provide a company like iRobot with the resources to accelerate innovation and invest in critical features while lowering prices for consumers.
Late last year, the EU settled with Amazon over two previous competition investigations — one delving into antitrust concerns about Amazon's use of merchant data to boost its own retail business. and a second that examines how the “Buy Box” and Prime loyalty program work.
In those cases, Amazon agreed to a series of commitments to end the investigations — including saying it would stop using non-public data from its marketplace sellers and increase transparency for merchants. and is committed to treating all sellers equally, regardless of whether they pay for its logistics services.
At the time, then-EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager trumpeted the result as setting what she called "new rules for how Amazon operates in Europe" — arguing that the settlement meant the e-commerce giant could no longer abuses his dual role. market operator and own-brand retailer; And further claiming the outcome would ensure that "competing independent retailers and carriers as well as consumers benefit from these changes which open up new opportunities and choices".
Given the commitments the EU has already extracted from Amazon following these previous investigations, it is interesting to see that the bloc remains concerned about the levers the e-commerce behemoth still has at its disposal to potentially affect competitive iRobot's market performance against competing robots.
Έκτοτε, η Amazon έχει επίσης ονομαστεί gatekeeper σύμφωνα με τον νέο λαμπερό εκ των προτέρων κανονισμό ανταγωνισμού της ΕΕ, τον Νόμο για τις Ψηφιακές Αγορές — ο οποίος αναφέρει την αγορά της ως βασική υπηρεσία platformς. Αυτός ο προσδιορισμός σημαίνει ότι η Amazon πρέπει να συμμορφώνεται με μια σειρά από εκ των προτέρων υποχρεώσεις, οι οποίες περιλαμβάνουν περιορισμούς στην αυτοπροτίμηση.