French Antitrust Chief Was “Surprised” To Be Removed From Post

France’s antitrust chief has expressed her “surprise” and “disappointment” at President Emmanuel Macron’s decision not to renew her mandate in the middle of a review of a far-reaching broadcasting merger and several competition cases against US tech giants. 

Isabelle de Silva, who won plaudits after imposing two penalties against Google for a combined €720 million, said she found out last week that she would not be nominated by the French president for a second five-year term, and will therefore leave on October 13. The Elysée has not commented on the decision. 

“Until a few days ago I was quite confident that I would be renewed although you never have absolute certainty,” she told the Financial Times. “So it came as a bit of a surprise.”

“I would have liked to continue, but obviously I respect the decision and hope a new person will continue the work I have started. It is a personal disappointment for me and my team to have to come to terms with.”

The decision comes six months before presidential elections, in which Macron is seeking a second term, and at a time when the regulator is reviewing several large national mergers. One of them is the tie-up between TF1, France’s largest broadcaster, and smaller group M6. Tf1 is owned by construction billionaire Martin Bouygues and its 8pm news program is the most watched with about 6 million viewers on average.

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