MMC chief quits as shake-up begins

A wide-ranging shake-up of competition policy was under way yesterday after the Government announced details of its new Competition Commission and Sir Graeme Odgers resigned from his pounds 120,000-a-year post as chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Sir Graeme's surprise decision will force the Government to find a new chairman for the Competition Commission since Sir Graeme would have transferred into the job when the authority comes into operation next year and takes over the functions of the MMC.

However Sir Graeme, 63, told the President of the Board of Trade, Margaret Beckett, that he had decided to return to the private sector rather than serving out the remainder of his term, which was not due to expire until April 1999.

His intention to quit the MMC after just over four years in the job was known to Mrs Beckett's predecessor, Ian Lang, but the announcement was delayed first by the General Election and then by Labour's review of competition policy.

The Competition Bill published yesterday by Mrs Beckett will beef up the Office of Fair Trading, giving it the power to crack down on cartels and anti-competitive agreements by fining companies up to 10 per cent of their turnover.

As well as taking over the MMC's job of vetting takeovers and mergers, the Competition Commission will also act as a tribunal to hear appeals against penalties imposed by the OFT. The Restrictive Practices Court will be disbanded.

Mrs Beckett said she had accepted Sir Graeme's resignation with considerable regret.

Sir Graeme stressed that he supported the changes being introduced by Mrs Beckett and had only decided to leave so that he could end his career back in the private sector. He is looking for a non-executive chairmanship but stressed: "I have not put out any feelers yet, nor has anybody approached me."

Sir Graeme arrived at the MMC in April 1993 after a career spent in the construction and telecoms industry, culminating in the chief executive's job at Alfred McAlpine. It was only last October that he agreed to a two- year extension of his term from April this year.

But Sir Graeme said that in the months that followed he became convinced that if he was to get a job back in the private sector, he would have to leave the MMC before he reached 65.

During his tenure the MMC has handled 68 referrals, of which 54 have been published. Its advice has been ignored by the government four times - GEC's takeover of VSEL, which the MMC recommended be blocked, the two generators' bids for regional electricity companies and the Bass-Carlsberg Tetley merger, which the MMC cleared, and the break-up of British Gas's trading and pipeline arms, which was rejected.

Comment, page 21

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin