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Senate Approves New Top Antitrust Chief

Tuesday, 21 Apr 2009 08:18 AM

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate voted on Monday to approve President Barack Obama's nominee to enforce antitrust law at the Justice Department.

Christine Varney, who was approved by a vote of 87 to 1, indicated at a confirmation hearing in March that she would have challenged mergers that Bush antitrust enforcers allowed to go through, such as the merger of appliance rivals Whirlpool and Maytag in 2006.

Varney, a former commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, said she would work with the FTC, which also enforces antitrust law, on issues like drug companies' settlements with other companies to delay production of cheaper, generic drugs.

She said she would support legislation to ban the practice if courts determine the settlements are legal.

She also said she would support a bill to strip railroads of antitrust exemptions.

Varney, who had worked on President Barack Obama's transition team, was an FTC commissioner under the Clinton administration where she showed an interest in privacy issues.

At the law firm Hogan and Hartson, which she rejoined in 1997, she headed the firm's Internet practice group and helped industries found self-regulation associations. Past clients of the practice group include online auctioneer eBay Inc, News Corp's Fox Interactive Media/MySpace, and accounting firm Ernst & Young.

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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