The almost-simultaneous blocking of mergers valued at more than $20 billion in the U.S. and Europe this week signals that government regulators across the globe are showing little tolerance for deals between direct competitors.

The European Union on Wednesday thwarted CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.'s 10.25 billion pound ($14.8 billion) bid to buy Telefonica SA's O2 unit in the U.K. to create that country's biggest mobile carrier. The move came hours after U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington halted the $6.3 billion merger of Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc.

With the collapse of those two deals, some $908 billion of the transactions announced last year have now fallen apart, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That means 2015 has been stripped of its title as the biggest year for dealmaking on record, dropping to $4.08 trillion compared with 2007's $4.09 trillion.

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