FTC Competition Bureau Chief Steps Down

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By Alexei Alexis

Tad Lipsky, the Federal Trade Commission’s acting competition chief, has stepped down, the agency said July 5.

Lipsky retired effective July 3. He will be replaced by Markus Meier, who has served as an acting deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition since November 2015.

The announcement marks an end to a brief transition period for the agency since President Donald Trump took office and Obama appointee Deborah Feinstein stepped down as competition director in February. “Lipsky’s appointment was meant to be temporary,” Andre Barlow, an antitrust partner at Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC, told Bloomberg BNA. “He probably saw a good break point given the matters in front of him.”

Barlow said Meier is an agency veteran who’s well qualified to take over the competition bureau. Meier has led the bureau’s health care division since 2006.

Lipsky was appointed by FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen in February. During his brief stint as competition chief, he led major enforcement work, including a legal action to stop fantasy sports rivals DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. from merging.

Lipsky’s staff was also involved in a lengthy review of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Rite Aid Corp.'s proposed merger, where the companies said the agency posed many questions about possible divestitures to maintain competition. Because of FTC questions, the two pharmacy giants last week dropped their bid to merge and reworked their deal such that Walgreens will buy 2,186 Rite Aid stores, leaving Rite Aid as a regional chain.

“Tad has been a tremendous asset at the bureau since he arrived,” Ohlhausen said in a statement. “His deep experience and intellect have helped guide the bureau through many important commission matters.”

Alan Devlin, an acting deputy director for the bureau, also left the FTC effective July 3, for private practice, the FTC said. He will be replaced by Haidee Schwartz, who previously served as an attorney adviser to Ohlhausen.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexei Alexis in Washington at aalexis@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bna.com

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