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Bannister looks to outpace rivals in race to be next CMA chair

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The former boss of FTSE 100 insurance group Phoenix is among the leading contenders to become the next chairman of Britain’s competition watchdog.

Sky News has learnt that Clive Bannister, who now chairs the financial advisory group Rathbones and the Museum of London, has been identified as a potential successor to Jonathan Scott, the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) interim chair.

An appointment is expected in the coming weeks, and Mr Bannister is regarded as a highly credible choice for a role which – like many other regulatory chairmanships – has proved difficult to fill.

Mr Bannister – the son of legendary runner Sir Roger Bannister – spent nine years as Phoenix’s chief executive, prior to which he had been chief executive of HSBC’s private bank.

Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee and Member of Parliament (MP) for Chichester at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, central London.
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Lord Tyrie was forced out of the CMA in September 2020

The appointment of the next CMA chair will end a search that has lasted nearly two years.

Lord Tyrie, the former Conservative MP, was forced out amid tensions with Andrea Coscelli, the CMA chief, who is due to step down himself in the summer.

Sources say that Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, is keen to resolve the issue of the CMA’s leadership as swiftly as possible.

The CMA is one of Britain’s most important economic regulators, having recently made headlines by intensifying pressure on America’s technology giants, including Meta, the owner of Facebook, and Apple.

Previous extensions of Mr Scott’s term as interim chair have underlined the difficulty that ministers and senior civil servants have had in identifying candidates to run some of the UK’s most important economic regulators amid signs of their increasingly politicised nature.

Lord Grade was recently confirmed as chair of Ofcom, the media regulator, after a hunt lasting about the same length as the CMA’s.

Ofwat, the water authority, and the Financial Conduct Authority are also seeking new chairs.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “The government is currently in the process of recruiting a new CMA chairman and we will announce next steps in due course.”

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