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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