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Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Merger Monday is back with a vengeance, with more than $72 billion worth of deals announced in the telecom, energy, retail and real estate sectors.

Bigger picture: Global M&A activity is up 56% from this time last year while U.S. M&A is up 29%, per Thomson Reuters.

  • T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday agreed to a $26 billion tie-up, which would create America's second-largest wireless carrier (leapfrogging Verizon, still behind AT&T).
  • Marathon Petroleum agreed to buy Andeavor for $23.3 billion, which would create the largest U.S. oil refiner by capacity (overtaking Valero Energy).
  • Marriott Vacations Worldwide agreed to buy ILG for $4.7 billion, which Bloomberg says creates "the largest luxury brand for timeshare vacation resorts."
  • Prologis agreed to acquire DCT Industrial Trust for $8.4 billion in stock, putting even more distance between Prologis and lesser rivals in the global warehouse and distribution center market (a market that's surging in the world of Amazon and broader e-commerce).
  • Sainsbury's agreed to merge with Walmart's Asda in a $10 billion tie-up that would create Britain's largest supermarket operator.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
33 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.