On February 9, 2023, Becca Chappell was quoted in International Financial Law Review on the Biden administration’s increased enforcement of antitrust laws, creating new challenges for the M&A industry.
According to the article, under the lead of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan and DOJ assistant attorney general for antitrust Jonathan Kanter, the two agencies have attempted to block 22 mergers since Joe Biden came into office in January 2021. That’s twice as many as during the first two years of Donald Trump’s administration, with no sign that the authorities are planning back down.
The ramped-up enforcement of antitrust laws is part of a bigger effort that fits within the Biden administration’s broader agenda. Another example was last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, which contained provisions targeting large international and publicly traded companies in the United States, including a 15% minimum corporate tax for groups with $1 billion or more in yearly earnings.
“This is getting at the same public groups that are now facing increased scrutiny on the merger and regulatory side,” said Chappell. “Similarly, the act established 1% excise tax on certain share buybacks for publicly traded companies.” This appears to be consistent with a broader trend toward enhancing scrutiny and putting increased pressure on some of the larger publicly traded corporations in the United States, Chappell explained.