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Facebook hires top lawyer from U.K.’s antitrust watchdog

The U.K.’s antitrust agency said it’s hired a new senior legal director after the official it appointed in July moved to Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. as a top competition lawyer.

The Competition and Markets Authority said in a note on Friday that Geert Goeteyn will take over the role after predecessor Jenny Coombes joined the social network giant last month. Meta confirmed the appointment and didn’t comment further.

Coombes joined the CMA in 2020 and came from a tech background with eight years spent as a competition lawyer at Alphabet Inc.’s Google. She was promoted to senior legal director, one of its most high-ranking legal positions, in July. Goeteyn is a former partner at law firm Reed Smith in Brussels and has worked at global law firm Shearman & Sterling.

So-called revolving doors have long been a feature of hiring in the U.S., as big companies and senior officials regularly swap positions in Washington. While it’s less common in the U.K., former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stirred controversy when he joined Facebook as its head of global affairs.

The U.K.’s CMA has made it a top priority to rein in Silicon Valley after gaining extra powers to patrol global markets in the wake of Brexit.

The CMA said most of its senior leadership had successful careers in the private sector before moving to the organization — showing that the flow of talent isn’t one way.

“Our success in recruiting high-quality staff into senior roles is evidence of the strength of our offer which includes a competitive package and the opportunity to work on global issues that shape the regulatory environment,” the watchdog said.

The agency is currently undergoing some change in its senior ranks. Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers, will leave the agency for London-based management consultancy Fingleton in February, while Andrea Gomes Da Silva, executive director, left the agency in September. Andrea Coscelli is expected to stand down as chief executive officer next year after six years at the top. Bloomberg

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