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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump is viewed by many on the left as a tool of big business, thanks largely to the 2017 tax cuts, but when it comes to corporate mergers and acquisitions, he's been more foe than friend.

The big picture: The administration has blocked, sued to block, or threatened to block big deals in a number of industry sectors. Sometimes it's been done on antitrust grounds. Sometimes on national security grounds. Sometimes, it seems, on gussied-up whim.

Why it matters: "Subject to regulatory approval" for decades was an M&A risk factor that merging companies disclosed as boilerplate. Today, however, it's rarely a foregone conclusion — and post-announcement analysis is as much about if a deal will be allowed to close as it is about price, product, financing, layoffs, or strategic coherence.

  • In media, notable examples under Trump include DOJ seeking to block AT&T from buying Time Warner, Sinclair being blocked from buying Tribune Media, and the major divestiture requirements on T-Mobile's deal for Sprint.
  • In healthcare, DaVita, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and CVS each were forced to make significant divestitures in order to gain approval for multi-billion dollar acquisitions.
  • In tech, Broadcom was blocked from buying Qualcomm, Canyon Bridge from buying Lattice Semiconductor, and DraftKings from merging with FanDuel.
  • In printing, Quad/Graphics Inc. and LSC Communications recently abandoned their planned merger due to federal opposition.
  • In defense, Harris Corp. was forced to sell a night vision unit in order to merge with L3 Technologies, and Trump has publicly expressed unease with United Technologies' proposed deal for Raytheon.

Yes, but: Sometimes deals do close, but then are forced by U.S. regulators to be unwound. That's what happening right now with Pamplona Capital Management's 2018 purchase of a 47% stake in cybersecurity company Cofense (f.k.a. PhishMe) and Kunlun's 2016 purchase of dating app Grindr (although U.S. opposition appears to be softening).

  • Speaking of Kunlun, the bar for Chinese takeovers of U.S. companies has been placed so high that they aren't really worth the attempt.

The bottom line: Trump's love of big things and distaste for regulation and judicial "activism" doesn't extend to M&A, where he seems reflexively opposed to big mergers and in favor of stricter rules and "activist" regulators.

Go deeper: One week of the not-normal presidency

Go deeper

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

4 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

5 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.