Companies used to fear that activist investors would pressure them to sell. Now they fear activist pressure to not buy.

Driving the news: Bill Ackman is urging United Technologies to scrap its mega-merger with Raytheon.

  • Ackman's Pershing Square Capital has less than a 1% stake in UTX, valued at around $745 million. Twenty-two other outside investors hold larger positions.
  • But he has one of Wall Street's loudest megaphones, and is threatening to publicly oppose the deal, per a memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

More from the memo:

It "makes no sense to us why you would consider a stock acquisition using today's massively undervalued UTC common stock to buy a large business of inferior quality to the company's existing businesses, and for which we cannot comprehend the strategic logic."

Carl Icahn is suing Occidental Petroleum, in which he reportedly built a position worth north of $1 billion, over its proposed purchase of Anadarko.

  • Icahn thinks the deal is overpriced, with Occidental succumbing to pricing pressure from earlier Anadarko bidder Chevron. Moreover, he thinks that financing terms given to Warren Buffett were far too generous.
  • He also argues Occidental would be better off selling itself than buying Anadarko, saying the deal's debt-laden math can only work (possibly) if oil prices rise and don't fall for years.
  • But he's not threatening to vote against the deal, as Ackman is with UTX/Raytheon, because Occidental structured its offer in a way that sidesteps the need for a shareholder vote. So add that to the list of things that bother Icahn.

The bottom line: Ackman and Icahn have history as antagonistic rivals. But they often swim in similar strategic directions.

Go deeper: United Technologies, Raytheon reach aero-space mega-merger

Go deeper

Updated 29 mins ago - World

Scoop: Decisive meeting could lead to Israeli-Sudanese normalization

Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan's head of the Sovereign Council, meets with Bahraini aid officials in Khartoum, Sept. 15. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images

U.S., Emirati and Sudanese officials will hold a decisive meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday on a possible normalization agreement between Sudan and Israel, Sudanese sources told me.

Why it matters: If the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates accommodate Sudan’s requests for economic aid, an announcement on a normalization agreement with Israel similar to the ones struck with the UAE and Bahrain could be made within days, sources briefed on the process tell me.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:45 p.m. ET: 30,838,610 — Total deaths: 958,090— Total recoveries: 21,088,552Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:45 p.m. ET: 6,777,026 — Total deaths: 199,352 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
  3. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right" Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules.
  4. Education: What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning
  5. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  6. World: Guatemalan president tests positive for COVID-19 — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.
Updated 2 hours ago - Health

7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Seven states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments. Wisconsin and Nebraska surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Problem spots are sticking in the Midwest, although the U.S. is moving in the right direction overall after massive infection spikes this summer.