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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.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.