The chairman of the UK’s competition watchdog was forced to step down three years early after a stand-off with the firm’s chief executive, according to reports.
Lord Tyrie, who last week announced he would stand down as chairman of the Competition and Markets authority (CMA) in September three years earlier than planned, had fallen out with the regulator’s boss Andrea Coscelli prior to his departure, Sky News reported.
Coscelli is said to have told business secretary Alok Sharma that CMA directors had “lost confidence” in Lord Tyrie’s leadership, and that he would step down as chief executive if Lord Tyrie refused to quit.
Sharma is head of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), which is responsible for overseeing the CMA.
Lord Tyrie, former MP for Chichester and chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, took up the helm at the CMA in 2018 for an expected five-year tenure.
In a statement announcing his resignation, the peer said he was stepping down because of the “inherent limits of my position”.
“I now want to make the case more forcefully for legislative and other reform — in parliament and beyond — than is possible…as CMA chairman,” he said.
Beis said it has begun recruitment for a new CMA chair.
Lord Tyrie oversaw high-profile interventions during his time at the head of the CMA, where he pushed for wide-scale legislative change.
In April last year, the watchdog published its final report on the UK audit market, which it said had identified “serious competition problems”. The CMA has also urged the government to split up the Big Four accounting firms — PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG — on an operational basis to improve market competition and drive down costs.
News of sour relations behind Lord Tyrie’s departure comes days after the CMA was forced to revise its review of a potential Amazon stake in Deliveroo. The CMA had provisionally cleared the e-commerce giant’s 16 per cent stake in Deliveroo, in light of the food delivery giant’s impacted finances during the pandemic.
However in an updated ruling published this week, the watchdog said it has now provisionally found that the investment should be cleared “because it is not expected to damage competition in either restaurant delivery or online convenience grocery delivery”.
The revision has raised questions over the CMA’s initial scrutiny of the potential deal. The watchdog is now asking for views on its provisional findings by 10 July.