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Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden has decided to become the antitruster-in-chief, today signing a sweeping executive order that could limit corporate consolidation.

The big picture: Biden is explicitly asking regulators to not only block new mergers, but also to consider unwinding prior mergers that were not challenged by past administrations.

Impact on tech deals: The EO implements a "greater scrutiny of mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by 'free' products, and the effect on user privacy."

  • It also asks the FTC to establish new rules on data accumulation and surveillance.

Impact on healthcare deals: The EO takes aim at hospital mergers, directing the DOJ and FTC "to review and revise their merger guidelines to ensure patients are not harmed by such mergers."

  • It also directs HHS to finish implementing federal legislation to limit surprise hospital billing, something that's been prevalent at private equity-owned facilities.

Impact on transportation deals: The EO argues that the airline, maritime shipping and freight railroad industries have become too consolidated, and puts new restrictions on fees and rights of way.

Impact on financial deals: The EO argues that the banking sector has become too consolidated because of mergers (resulting in closures that disproportionately impact rural areas and communities of color). It asks several agencies to "update guidelines on banking mergers to provide more robust scrutiny of mergers."

The bottom line: None of this changes actual antitrust law, to which judges remain beholden. But Biden is staking out a political philosophy that consolidation is antithetical to competition, and likely believes that the threat of regulatory action could scare off some deals from getting signed.

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

Intermountain to acquire SCL Health

Intermountain Healthcare has found a new merger partner. Photo: Intermountain

Intermountain Healthcare will acquire SCL Health roughly six months after Intermountain and Sanford Health ended their merger attempt.

Why it matters: The combined Intermountain-SCL system will own 33 hospitals, will generate more than $13 billion of annual revenue and will dominate several areas throughout Utah and Colorado — consequently gaining leverage over health insurers and employers as a must-have network if the deal is finalized.

2 hours ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

4 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.