US Antitrust Regulators Reportedly Slowing Down Oil and Gas Mergers

The FTC’s scrutiny threatens to put the brakes on dealmaking in the oil patch, which had already dropped to $18.5 billion of M&A between U.S. oil and gas producers in the third quarter.

David French and Diane Bartz, Reuters

U.S. antitrust regulators have extended the approval process for at least five oil and gas mergers and acquisitions in the last three months, as President Joe Biden’s administration scrutinizes deals in a bid to tackle soaring energy prices, according to regulatory filings and corporate lawyers.

The slowdown comes amid growing pressure on policymakers to respond to consumer angst over skyrocketing retail gasoline prices, as U.S. crude futures hit multi-year highs. The White House has been calling U.S. oil and gas producers to ask how they can help lower prices, Reuters reported last week.

The move is also emblematic of a new push by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect consumers, workers, the environment and society at large. Under its new chair Lina Khan, the antitrust regulator has taken a tough stance on deals ranging from technology to healthcare.

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