The Competition and Markets Authority has ended the year-long wait to find out who will become the regulator’s new chief executive.

Former Slaughter & May partner Sarah Cardell has been serving as the interim boss of the competition watchdog since June, after predecessor Andrea Coscelli confirmed he was stepping down in January.

Cardell has now been given the job on a permanent basis, becoming its first female chief executive.

Coscelli had told colleagues that he would not be standing for the top role again long before then, Sky News reported in July 2021, opening a period of uncertainty over the future of the top team.

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According to Sky, Cardell faced competition from Sheldon Mills, a rising star at fellow regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, who currently serves as the watchdog’s executive director for consumers and competition, as well as Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Ali Nikpay.

A CMA spokesperson declined to comment. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was approached for comment.

Since his departure, Coscelli has taken on a role with US consultancy Keystone Strategy and has been told he is not allowed to lobby the government for two years.

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Cardell’s appointment completes a new top team at the watchdog. Boston Consulting Group senior partner Marcus Bokkerink was officially confirmed as the CMA’s permanent chair in May 2022 after a selection process that lasted about two years.

The pair will face a challenge in coping with the CMA’s mounting workload after Brexit, as it continues key probes into the financial services sector as well as into the influence of tech giants like Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and Alphabet, Google’s owner.

“The ’s work is vital, particularly as we take on more responsibilities,” Cardell said in a statement. “My full focus will be on delivering positive outcomes for people, businesses and the UK economy, supported by our dedicated and talented teams.”

Bokkerink added: “There are certainly challenges ahead but I have absolute confidence that we’ll tackle them head on to ensure that markets are as competitive as possible, and people get a fair deal.”

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Justin Cash

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