The Biden administration appears to have made it more difficult for big businesses to merge or be acquired during the last two years at the helm of the federal government.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed over 20 challenges against companies seeking industry consolidation in 2022, according to the 45th Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Annual Report, which tracks data on merger transactions every year.

“The Commission and the Antitrust Division continue their efforts to protect competition by identifying and investigating those mergers and acquisitions that may violate the antitrust laws,” the report claims. “Together, the FTC and the Division represent the American people’s front-line defense against unlawful industry consolidation, and stopping illegal mergers is central to that mission.”

In total, 3,152 merger transactions were reported under the HSR Act in 2022, marking the second-highest number over the past 10 years. Per the HSR Act, companies are required to file premerger notifications with the FTC and the antitrust division of the DOJ for certain acquisition proposals.

Overall, the number of transactions reported in 2022 was slightly below the prior year’s record of 3,520 but nearly 50% above 2020 levels.

Some of the recent merger attempts reported on by The Dallas Express include Kroger’s plans to buy Albertsons for $24.6 billion, JetBlue’s failed attempt to buy Spirt Airlines for $3.8 billion, and the $8 billion merger between Six Flag and Cedar Fair.

“The FTC and DOJ actions are making headlines because businesses think they ought to have the right to merge with whomever they want,” claimed Darren Bush, professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center, per The Dallas Morning News. “The purpose of merging is more corporate hubris than concern for customers.”

Among the 24 merger enforcement challenges, 11 were issued final consent orders after a public comment period, seven proposed transactions were abandoned or restructured due to antitrust concerns, and six cases generated administrative or federal court litigation from regulators, according to the HSR report.

“I think there is an unhealthy amount of optimism about the benefits the mergers might bring in terms of cost savings,” Bush said, per DMN.

Not everyone seems to agree, however, especially firms looking to merge or expand by acquisition in competitive markets that are feeling the pressure from giants like Walmart and Amazon.

“Kroger’s combination with Albertsons will mean lower prices and more choices for more customers. With a proven record of lowering prices year over year, Kroger will invest $500 million to reduce prices beginning day one, as well as an incremental $1.3 billion to enhance the customer experience. The merger will mean more fresh, affordable food is available to more people in more communities,” the company claimed in a news release.