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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

Why some Republican governors oppose anti-trans bills

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Chistopher Goodney (Bloomberg), Drew Angerer, Stephen Yang/Getty Images

Some Republican governors have found themselves at odds with their own party over a record number of bills targeting transgender children.

Why it matters: Social conservatives see a winning issue in bills to restrict trans students' participation in sports and access to health care, but the sudden push has met resistance even from some staunch conservatives.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
10 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

11 hours ago - World

UN: 10,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

A Palestinian woman walks after she collects her belongings inside her damaged house following an Israeli air in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight people, including two children, have been killed in Israel, Reuters reported, citing Israeli authorities.