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It's about to be the perfect storm for big-time M&A deals to finally take off

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks about his administration's approach to artificial intelligence during an event in the East Room of the White House on October 30, 2023, in Washington, DC.

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Halfway to the weekend! A new (sort of) candidate has entered the debate over the top holiday song. Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" hit Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart for the first time in its 65-year existence. Could this be the beginning of the end for Mariah Carey's ubiquitous "All I Want for Christmas Is You"?

In today's big story, we're looking at why corporate America isn't afraid of the Biden administration's anti-trust stance anymore and how that's leading to a wave of M&A.

What's on deck: 

But first, let's make a (big) deal.

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The big story

Ain't no stopping M&A

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden

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Big deals are coming. And companies are betting there's nothing anyone — including the highest office in the land — can do to stop them. 

Shortly after US President Joe Biden took office in 2021, he looked to make good on his promise of scrutinizing corporate dealmaking, particularly in Big Tech

But as he enters the final year of his initial term, the floodgates for big M&A deals have opened, writes Business Insider's Matt Fox.

The strict anti-trust stance of Biden and Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission chief he appointed, hasn't stopped a wave of deal announcements since September that total more than $170 billion.

A key turning point was Khan's failure to stop Microsoft's $69 billion bid to buy Activision Blizzard

Like the first one to take a dip at a pool party, a court ruling in favor of Microsoft and against the FTC in July was a signal for companies and their bankers to join the fun.

Now everyone from Cisco to Exxon Mobil is getting in on the action with pricey transactions of their own. Even Warren Buffett is reportedly considering helping to finance a high-profile deal in the energy space

But the starkest example of how bold dealmakers have gotten is a potential tie-up between giant health insurers Cigna and Humana, Matt writes. The deal is a longshot to get approved, but the fact both sides are even trying shows corporate America's ambivalent views toward the Biden administration's anti-trust agenda.

ftc chair Lina Khan

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The recent dealmaking spree is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Matt, "there's going to be a tidal wave of M&A ahead," now that fear over Khan and the FTC squashing deals has mostly subsided. 

The revelation comes at a perfect time for the industry. Bankers have been desperate to get the M&A market going after an elongated drought. 

That, coupled with the market predicting significant cuts to interest rates next year, means things could ramp up quickly. 

And rest assured, bankers aren't interested in nickel-and-dime type deals. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs was reportedly targeting mega deals — those over $10 billion — as a way to get back on track.  

But it's not just the size of deals that'll be worth watching. There could be some interesting tie-ups between large incumbents and the startups that initially set out to disrupt them.

With VC money drying up and an unwelcoming IPO market, late-stage companies might look to be acquired by the companies they once looked to topple.

3 things in markets

people wearing sunglasses on stock nyse floor

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

3 things in tech

Ted Underwood

L Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/BI

  • America's smartest AI optimist. It's not Sam Altman, Satya Nadella, or any of the other big names you associate with AI. Instead, our greatest AI visionary is an English professor in Illinois named Ted Underwood. He's convinced that AI will help us all think more deeply and help scholars uncover exciting new truths.

  • Leaked email: Microsoft is shaking up its security organization. The giant has named a new chief information security officer, according to an internal email. Bridgewater's former chief technology officer Igor Tsyganskiy will start his new role on January 1.

  • The mini wave of Amazon employees quitting right now. Leaked internal messages showed that they cited issues like the strict RTO mandate, layoffs, and "lack of respect." One former employee even publicly shared that "the sheer number of AWS resignations in the last week is stunning."

3 things in business

Jeff Bezos

Karwai Tang/WireImage; Getty; Michael Walmsley; Insider

  • The previously unreported Seattle properties of Jeff Bezos. He injected some serious cash into Seattle's real estate market. But now that he's moving to Miami with fianceé Lauren Sanchez, he leaves behind a mini-empire of eight homes in ritzy Seattle suburbs.

  • Business Insider's fourth cohort of emerging commercial and residential real estate talent. The 20 professionals — all 35-years-old or younger — are making waves across a vast industry. The list of rising stars includes talent from firms like Cushman & Wakefield to startups rethinking old norms.

  • How Mark Cuban forced the biggest US pharmacy to upend its business. CVS just announced a change to how prescription drugs get priced at pharmacies. It has been facing market pressure from new models like Cuban's Cost Plus Drugs.

In other news

What's happening today

  • The fourth Republican presidential debate is tonight. Participants include Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy.

  • Happy birthday to A Boogie Wit da Hoodie! Giannis Antetokounmpo, Princess Sofia, and Andrew Cuomo were also born on this day.

  • Earnings today: Campbell Soup, Chewy, and other companies.

For your bookmarks

"Lazy girl" pasta

Martha Stewart in November 2023

Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Martha Stewart's favorite "lazy girl" pasta dish. Her cacio e pepe only needs butter, pepper, and Parmesan or Pecorino.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.

Read the original article on Business Insider