ID 314998 © Robert Brown | 3 8


Mergers and acquisitions are Wall Street’s blood sport. Winning a deal is of paramount importance. So anyone who gets in the way of achieving that goal draws ire.

That is one reason why top US antitrust enforcer Lina Khan has become such an antagonist for dealmakers and why they were rejoicing this month when Amgen reached a settlement with her agency, allowing the pharmaceutical company’s $28bn acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics to proceed.

In its first challenge to a pharmaceutical deal in more than a decade, Khan’s Federal Trade Commission had sought to block the deal, arguing greater market power would lead to higher prices for patients.

One leading corporate lawyer summed up the widely held view on the settlement on Wall Street, saying it would discredit Khan and the FTC. He added that it would be harder for the former Columbia professor to win future cases especially as the Amgen settlement comes after failing to block in court Microsoft’s $75bn acquisition of Activision and Meta’s takeover of virtual reality fitness app maker Within.

There’s no doubt that the recent defeats are a setback for Khan, who was appointed by US president Joe Biden in 2021 with a mandate to revive the FTC to its trustbusting origins. And they come before a big looming showdown — a FTC lawsuit against Amazon expected to be launched later this month. But the reality of the Amgen settlement may be somewhat more complex than the Wall Street summation.

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