Dec 12, 2019

Anti-trust uncertainty is the new normal for dealmakers

EU Commissioner of Competition Margrethe Vestager. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Governments around the world are taking a much closer look at proposed mergers, often on antitrust grounds, with bankers telling Axios that they've changed their approach with clients.

The big picture: "We used to look for reasons that a regulator might object to a deal," said a senior deal-maker at a large Wall Street bank. "Now we look at it from the opposite direction: We assume there will be objections, and then look for reasons why it won't get held up."

Some headlines from just the past week:

  • The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Google's $2.1 billion purchase of fitness-tracking company FitBit.
  • Australian antitrust regulators are taking a harder look at Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $16 billion sale of Carlton & United Breweries to Japan's Asahi, over concerns about competition within the country's cider and beer markets.
  • British antitrust regulators have "serious competition concerns" over Amazon's decision to lead a $575 million investment in Deliveroo. This one is particularly notable because Amazon would only hold a minority stake.
  • Canadian transportation regulators are holding up Onex's C$3.5 billion deal for WestJet, over ownership rules.

The bottom line: Regulatory uncertainty is the new normal.

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Report: FTC considering Facebook injunction over antitrust concerns

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Officials at the Federal Trade Commission are weighing seeking a preliminary injunction against Facebook over antitrust concerns, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Where it stands: Such an injunction would seek to bar Facebook from integrating different products. Facebook also owns Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. A majority of the FTC's five member board would need to vote in favor of seeking an injunction in federal court.

Go deeperArrowDec 12, 2019

Amazon's year of turbulence

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon's 2019 was full of headline-grabbing moments — everything from political fights to new records for the company that have upended the way we shop.

The big picture: The tech giant's year started with a fight with New York City and ended with its biggest single sales day in history. And there were plenty of dramatic days in between.

Go deeperArrowDec 29, 2019

The FTC's preemptive strike on Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

News that the Federal Trade Commission is weighing immediate action to block Facebook's effort to integrate its messaging products casts a pall over the company's plans, whether or not regulators actually follow through.

The big picture: CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January, 2019 that Facebook would integrate the technical foundations of its messaging services — Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019