Dealmakers face a reckoning as antitrust regulators across Europe scrutinize the boom in mergers that could see them extract concessions or even block acquisitions, reported Bloomberg.
Those same authorities are wielding new powers or about to acquire fresh capabilities they could use to wrap companies like Apple or Amazon in a regulatory straitjacket that will bring real changes to how they operate.
Globally, companies struck US$5 trillion-plus of deals in 2021, nearly a trillion more than the previous record set in 2007, according to Bloomberg data. But regulators seem less impressed, according to lawyer Michele Davis, and are more inclined to see the downside rather than the benefits of rivals teaming up.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office kicked off 2022 by ruling that Alphabet’s Google was of “paramount significance for competition.” This new classification makes it easier to act against the company and is weighing a similar ruling for Amazon, Apple, and Meta.
The European Union is also lining up new powers for early 2022 that would let it curb big tech under the planned Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act. The Competition and Market Authority’s Digital Markets Unit, also intended for debut early this year, aims to introduce “strategic market status” measures which would limit how internet giants can expand into new areas.
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