Today, the maker of cute robotic vacuums is also the largest supplier of ground-based robots to the U.S. Department of Defense.
But IRobot last week announced it was ending its run as a defense contractor. The company said it plans to sell its defense and security business to Arlington Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Chevy Chase, Md., which has deep ties to the government contracting world. The price was up to $45 million, based on sales targets. A new name for the defense unit will be announced when the deal closes in the next few months, a spokesman said.
The sale allows the $800 million IRobot company to focus on selling vacuums and, more recently, robotic sweepers and mops to consumers.
The move follows pressure from Red Mountain Capital Partners, a firm that owns 6.1% of IRobot shares. In a Jan. 25 letter to IRobot’s board, Red Mountain threatened a proxy fight if the company didn’t spin off its defense unit.