Stephen Ridgeway set to be appointed ACCC mergers commissioner

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This article was written by John Durie and was first published in The Australian

Veteran lawyer Stephen Ridgeway is set to be appointed the new mergers commissioner at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

He will replace Roger Featherston, who leaves in June after five years as a commissioner. Mr Ridgeway was a partner at King & Wood Mallesons for six years until last year, after starting his career with the Australian government solicitor and then moving to what is now called Ashurst.

Ironically Featherston was also a long-term partner at Mallesons. The role as ACCC mergers commissioner is often filled by an economist, with Jill Walker and Stephen King filling the role prior to Featherston's appointment. 

Mr Ridgeway's appointment is subject to approval from the state and federal governments.

It comes as the ACCC has shown itself to be more commercially aware, with its decision to bring forward a decision on the IPH bid for rival patent attorney firm Xenith. As reported today, the ACCC was originally due to decide the issue on May 2 which was after the April 3 scheme meeting to decide on the proposed Qantm and Xenith merger.

The ACCC will now rule on the rival IPH deal tomorrow.

It may clear the merger or issue a statement of issues. Xenith and Qantm control 15 per cent of the intellectual property and patent market and IPH controls 22 per cent. The ACCC cleared the Xenith-Qantm deal last week.