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UK Competition Watchdog Names New Chair

 |  May 11, 2022

The two-year search for a new chair of the Competition and Markets Authority will end later this month with the expected appointment of Clive Bannister, allowing the focus to switch to finding a successor for the UK competition watchdog’s outgoing chief executive Andrea Coscelli. 

The government is set to announce Bannister, the former chief executive at insurance firm Phoenix Group, as the replacement to Andrew Tyrie, who was ousted in 2020 after a boardroom coup, according to several individuals with knowledge of the process. 

The protracted search for a new chair has led to further disruption at the top of the regulator by hampering the process to replace Coscelli, who announced at the start of the year that he would step down in July. As a result, the government has opted to appoint an interim chief executive with Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s general counsel, the leading candidate, according to these people. 

Officials are keen for the chief executive’s role to be filled by a woman, and while the new chair will have a key role in the search, Cardell has strong internal backing to take the role permanently, according to the same people. The government is not expected to start the official search for a permanent chief executive until after the summer, however. 

The lack of orderly succession planning at the CMA comes at a crucial time as its expands its role in the wake of Brexit and the world’s leading competition watchdogs seek to rein in big technology companies like Facebook and Google. 

But there are other potential candidates and those with knowledge of the process warned that Cardell’s appointment was not certain given that the final decision rests with business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

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