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Aggressive Antitrust Scrutiny Damaging Competition, Cantor Says

(Bloomberg) -- Overly aggressive moves by US antitrust regulators have hurt competition and could steer investors away from the American market, Moelis & Co. Vice Chairman Eric Cantor said.

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“The real concern that I continue to hear from clients of Moelis and others is the fact that we’ve got a situation with our antitrust regulators,” Cantor said in a Bloomberg Television interview Wednesday, pointing to how antitrust laws are being interpreted by the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department. “They’ve, I think, done a disservice to our country, to investors, and frankly damaging the competitiveness of America as a destination for capital.”

Total mergers and acquisitions volume totaled $352.3 billion in the first quarter, up 70% from a year earlier and the highest for the period since 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The dealmaking rebound has been bolstered by the return of megadeals, led by Capital One Financial Corp.’s planned $35 billion acquisition of Discover Financial Services.

Read More: ‘Well-Planned’ Deals Can Win Approval, Lazard’s McMaster Says

Such transactions have attracted scrutiny, with a group of 16 lawmakers led by Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Financial Services, calling on regulators to overhaul their merger-review procedures. They said the Capital One-Discover deal may harm consumers and put the stability of the US financial system at risk.

New York-based Moelis is capitalizing on a surge in dealmaking in the Middle East as transactions in the US and Europe face tougher antitrust scrutiny. Chief Executive Officer Ken Moelis said late last year that the deal pipeline at his firm is at its highest level ever due to significant pent-up demand for M&A after almost two years of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes.

--With assistance from Jonathan Ferro, Lisa Abramowicz and Annmarie Hordern.

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