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Kwarteng asks former Boston consultant to lead the competition watchdog

·2-min read
Marcus Bokkerink will be grilled by MPs before taking on the role (BEIS/PA)
Marcus Bokkerink will be grilled by MPs before taking on the role (BEIS/PA)

Ministers have picked a new chairman from the business world to lead the UK’s competition watchdog after its outspoken former boss stepped down in frustration.

Marcus Bokkerink, a former consultant, was named as the preferred candidate of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Tuesday.

If selected, he will take the role as chair of the Competition and Markets Authority at a time of great change for the watchdog.

Formerly subservient to competition regulators in Brussels during the UK’s EU membership, the CMA is now planning a life of its own and needs to branch out.

The new chairman spent 30 years at Boston Consulting Group, ending up as a senior partner.

His experience is in contrast to former chairman Lord Andrew Tyrie, who was an MP for 20 years.

Lord Tyrie was for several years the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, tenaciously grilling officials, ministers and businesses on their actions.

But he left the role at the helm of the CMA’s board in 2020, saying that the role was too limited.

There were also reports that he had been forced out by those at the CMA who were opposed to his reforms.

When he takes the reins, Mr Bokkerink will be a far less well-known entity than Lord Tyrie though MPs on the business committee will get to quiz him before his appointment.

What direction he might take the watchdog was not clear from the announcement that he had been selected.

On a LinkedIn page believed to be that of Mr Bokkerink he has written that “competition in any market is precious and more fragile than often assumed.

“It requires active vigilance to protect it.”

This is one of five lessons Mr Bokkerink said he has taken from his career.

Another is that “true competitive advantage drives returns, growth and economic value creation, in that order”.

Alongside his announcement as the preferred CMA chair, Mr Bokkerink said: “The CMA is a leader among its peers in promoting effective competition and protecting consumers.

“I am delighted to be asked to work with the outstanding team there and the board to help it fulfil its expanded responsibilities.”

He is an alumnus of Cambridge, SOAS and Harvard Business School.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Marcus will make an excellent addition to the CMA team, bolstering its work to promote competition and innovation to help grow our economy and ensure the best deals for consumers.

“There are many opportunities on the horizon and his appointment will help us to seize them.”

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