The Politics of M&A Antitrust

88 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2017 Last revised: 29 Oct 2019

See all articles by Mihir N. Mehta

Mihir N. Mehta

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Suraj Srinivasan

Harvard Business School

Wanli Zhao

Renmin University of China

Date Written: October 28, 2019


Antitrust regulators play a critical role in protecting market competition. We examine whether the political process affects antitrust reviews of merger transactions. We find that acquirers and targets located in the political districts of powerful U.S. congressional members who serve on committees with antitrust regulatory oversight receive relatively favorable antitrust review outcomes. To establish causality, we use plausibly exogenous shocks to firm-politician links and a falsification test. Additional findings suggest congressional members’ incentives to influence antitrust reviews are affected by three channels: special interests, voter and constituent interests, and ideology. In aggregate, our findings suggest that the political process adversely interferes with the ability of antitrust regulators to provide independent recommendations about anti-competitive mergers.

Keywords: Political Economy; Antitrust; FTC; DOJ; Senate Judiciary Committee; House Judiciary Committee; Mergers and Acquisitions

JEL Classification: D72, G34, G38, K21

Suggested Citation

Mehta, Mihir N. and Srinivasan, Suraj and Zhao, Wanli, The Politics of M&A Antitrust (October 28, 2019). Journal of Accounting Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Mihir N. Mehta (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

701 Tappan Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States


Suraj Srinivasan

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States


Wanli Zhao

Renmin University of China ( email )

59 Zhongguancun Street
Beijing, 100872

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