On Monday, April 11, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed in a press release that Bill Baer will serve in the DOJ’s third-highest ranking position effective April 17, 2016. Baer will be stepping in for Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised Baer’s record at the Antitrust Division, noting that he has worked to obtain $400 million in relief for consumers in a case against Apple for the price-fixing of e-books, achieved a record level of fines from large banks in the LIBOR scandal, and defended consumers in industries from beer and wine to airlines and phone companies.
Baer was nominated by President Obama and was confirmed to lead the Antitrust Division in December 2012. It has been widely reported that Renata Hesse, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal and Civil Operations, will take the reins upon Baer’s departure. Hesse previously served as Acting Assistant Attorney General for a short time preceding Baer’s confirmation.
Practitioners do not expect Baer’s move to affect the Division’s track record of aggressive enforcement in recent years. On Friday, at the American Bar Association Antitrust Spring Meeting, Baer stated that the federal government has shown it is serious about stopping what it sees as competition-reducing mergers. Baer emphasized that the government is looking at the overall market as well as the individual pieces, and that lawyers should not “get lost in the weeds as you’re advising your clients about the antitrust merits.”