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Biden's Executive Order Takes Aim at Mergers as CN-KCS Seeks Regulatory OK

President Joe Biden's executive order on competition, which the president will sign Friday afternoon, takes aim at industries that have faced increased consolidation, which includes agriculture, health care, technology, financial services and transportation.
"That lack of competition drives up prices for consumers," a fact sheet released from the White House stated. "As fewer large players have controlled more of the market, mark-ups (charges over costs) have tripled. Families are paying higher prices for necessities -- things like prescription drugs, hearing aids, and internet service."
The order's drive is to "reduce the trend of corporate consolidation, increase competition, and deliver concrete benefits to America's consumers, workers, farmers and small businesses."
The executive order will put increased attention on the one major corporate merger right now facing regulatory scrutiny: Canadian National's $33.6 billion bid to buy Kansas City Southern railroad. The president's push against corporate consolidation comes as Canadian National has been waging a public-relations campaign to get approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board to set up a voting trust that would effectively acquire KCS while the Surface Transportation Board continues to review the deal. CN's push is opposed by KCS' initial suitor, Canadian Pacific railroad. CP has been making the case that its rival's move would hurt competition. The two sides have been flooding the Surface Transportation Board with letters from various shippers -- including grain elevators and other major agricultural shippers from both the U.S. and Canada.
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