French antitrust chief ‘surprised’ to be removed from post

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The head of French antitrust law said she was “surprised” by President Emmanuel Macron’s decision not to renew his mission during a widespread merger of broadcasts and a review of several competitions against US high-tech giants. Expressed “disappointment”.

Isabelle de Silva won the praise after imposing two penalties on Google. 720 million eurosSaid last week that he would resign on October 13 after learning that the French president would not appoint a second five-year term. Elysee has not commented on this decision.

“Until a few days ago, I wasn’t absolutely sure, but I was sure it would be updated,” she told the Financial Times. “So it was a little surprising.”

“I wanted to continue, but obviously I respect that decision and want new people to continue the work I started. I and my team must agree. Is a personal disappointment. “

This decision is made six months before Macron’s second presidential election, and when regulators are considering some major domestic mergers. One is the partnership between France’s largest broadcaster, TF1, and the small group M6. Tf1 is owned by Martin Bouygues of Construction Billionaire, and the 8 pm news program is the most watched by an average of about 6 million viewers.

The new group will dominate about 70% of the French TV advertising market, but the government has signaled that it is considering a merger. actively..

Other large combinations under consideration include the merger of Veolia and Suez, water and energy utilities, Editis, a book publisher owned by Vivendi in Vincent Borole, and Hachette, managed by Lagardère. increase.

De Silva said authorities would continue to consider the TF1-M6 case in its details and “serious methodology.” In other words, “changing the president (of the competition authorities) does not change the outcome.”

“In such an important and difficult event, I felt it was not always a good idea to change to a captain,” she added.

De Silva, a French-American lawyer who spent his entire career as a French civil servant, was appointed by then-President Francois Hollande in 2015.She became a prominent supporter of More rigorous oversight of tech companies We conducted an antitrust investigation into Google, Apple, and Facebook. In addition to scrutinizing Google, she managed to draw a pledge from the search giant to make changes to its advertising business.

Competition authorities are still working on Apple and Facebook investigations, and DeSilva has also worked closely with the European Commission’s antitrust watchdog.

More recently, she has established a relationship with Lina Khan, who is responsible for the new antitrust law of the Biden administration, and he is also pushing for more technical regulation. She has made a strong voice in the discussion of a new bill in Brussels set to curb the power of large tech companies.

In order for regulators to effectively supervise large tech companies, such international cooperation “must be maintained and built.” “To work on these digital platforms, we really need to get together and work as a team,” she said.

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