The Biden administration has launched a probe into ExxonMobil following pressure from congressional Democrats, according to The Associated Press.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for enforcing antitrust law, is investigating ExxonMobil’s October $60 billion acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources, according to the AP. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and 22 other Senate Democrats called on the agency to investigate the deal for potential antitrust violations in November.
The deal is one of the largest in the history of the American oil industry. Schumer and the other Democrats who pushed for an FTC probe of the ExxonMobil deal also called for the agency to investigate the $53 billion Chevron-Hess merger, which the two firms announced in October. So far, there have been no indications that the FTC is investigating that deal, according to the AP. (RELATED: Biden Admin Releases Guidelines For Policing Business Mergers)
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Schumer said that the FTC ought to “take a hard look at Exxon’s blockbuster merger and block it if it would lead to higher prices, hurt competition or force families to pay more at the pump” and that he is “glad the FTC is taking this step” on Tuesday, according to the AP.
Darren Woods, the CEO of ExxonMobil, indicated that he is not concerned that the FTC may scuttle the acquisition and that his firm will quickly provide the information that the agency has requested, according to CNBC.
“Pioneer and ExxonMobil continue to work constructively with the FTC in its review of the Merger and continue to expect that the Merger will be completed in the first half of 2024, subject to the fulfillment of the closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and approval of Pioneer’s stockholders,” Pioneer wrote in a recent regulatory filing.
The probe is the latest development in the Biden administration’s fraught relationship with the industry. President Joe Biden accused major oil companies of profiteering on the energy market conditions in the summer of 2022, which many critics assert were a result of the policies of his sweeping climate agenda.
Under Biden, the FTC has been aggressive in launching antitrust investigations and actions, especially in the technology sector. The agency has unsuccessfully attempted to intervene in Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video gaming giant Activision Blizzard, and it also lost in an effort to hold up Meta’s acquisition of a virtual reality startup.
The White House, the FTC and ExxonMobil did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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