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Data: FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

M&T Bank today became the latest to glom on to the "bigger is better" mentality swarming regional banks.

Why it matters: It adds to the parade of regional lenders — which have taken an active role in distributing PPP loans — swallowing each other in an effort to survive a more treacherous backdrop.

  • Net interest margin — a key way banks make money — collectively hit an all-time low for U.S. banks last year. The culprits: low interest rates and sluggish lending.
  • There's also growing competition from big players, like JPMorgan and Bank of America, that are bulking up in additional states and offering more digital banking options.

Details: M&T is buying People's United Financial for $7.6 billion in an all-stock deal.

  • The combined bank would have roughly $200 billion in assets, per the release. That catapults M&T to the fifth-largest regional bank by this measure, according to FactSet. (Previously, it was the 10th).
  • Yes, but: Even with the tie-up, M&T won't crack the top 10 biggest banks overall by assets.

The big picture: Today's action follows PNC Financial's purchase of BBVA's U.S. branches last year, which — if approved — would create the largest regional lender in the U.S.

  • Another: Huntington announced it would buy regional peer TCF Financial late last year, giving them combined assets of roughly $170 billion.

What they're saying: Part of the thinking is you can consolidate then grow that way, says Stephen Biggar, a banking analyst at research firm Argus Research.

What to watch: The regional tie-ups are among the first bank deals that will face regulatory scrutiny in the Biden era.

  • Executives expect the deal will close in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Go deeper

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

16 mins ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.

Congress' chip-funding pause raises alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, a plea by the Commerce Secretary and growing desperation from industry officials, Congress still can't get a key bill that funds the U.S. chip business over the finish line.

Why it matters: With the global chip shortage continuing to crimp the economy, the semiconductor industry has ramped up pressure for funding of U.S.-based manufacturing facilities as one remedy.

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