(Adds mergers pending before Justice Department)
WASHINGTON, March 27 A member of President
Donald Trump's transition team, Makan Delrahim, will be
nominated to head the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust
Division, the White House said on Monday.
Delrahim is expected to move to the Justice Department after
finishing up in the White House counsel's office, where he has
worked to steer Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch through the
Senate confirmation process.
The Senate must vote to confirm Delrahim once the nomination
As the proposed chief of the Antitrust Division, Delrahim
would review corporate mergers at a time when many investors and
corporate executives are anticipating a more relaxed view of
deal-making after years of tough oversight by the administration
of former President Barack Obama.
Antitrust experts who have followed Delrahim's career have
said that when it comes to merger approvals he would follow in
the footsteps of a former boss, Hewitt Pate, who was assistant
attorney general of antitrust from 2003 to 2005. Delrahim was
Pate's deputy, specializing in international antitrust.
Under Pate, the division was criticized for allowing too
many deals, but it sued to stop US Airways from merging with
United Airlines and blocked a deal to combine DirecTV and
EchoStar. It tried but failed to stop Oracle Corp from
"I know Makan Delrahim to be smart, energetic and expert in
antitrust. He is certainly no pushover," said Seth Bloom, a
former general counsel of the Senate antitrust subcommittee who
knew Delrahim when both worked on Capitol Hill.
Reuters first exclusively reported on March 17 that Delrahim
was expected to be nominated to head the Justice Department's
If confirmed, Delrahim would oversee the Justice
Department's assessment of AT&T's Inc plan to buy Time
Warner Inc, the owner of HBO, Warner Brothers and news
The department is reviewing a number of major transactions
in seeds and agricultural chemicals, like the mergers of Dow
Chemical Co and Dupont, and of Bayer
and Monsanto. Those proposed deals, along with
ChemChina's purchase of Syngenta, would consolidate six
agricultural chemical companies into three.
Before going to work at the White House after Trump's
inauguration in January, Delrahim was a lobbyist with the law
firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP.
One client in 2016 was health insurer Anthem Inc,
which this year lost a court fight with the Justice Department
over whether it would be allowed to merge with Cigna.
Anthem has appealed the loss.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)