Albert Foer, founder, president and CEO of the American Antitrust Institute, announced Monday he will step down effective January 2015 after 17 years at the group's helm.
The AAI was launched to promote stronger enforcement of antitrust laws. Foer will be succeeded by AAI vice president Diana Moss, who the AAI said was selected from a "pool of prestigious candidates after a national search."
The AAI, under Foer's leadership, has often been a lonely voice in antitrust circles for more robust enforcement during the past nearly two decades as even Democratic policymakers have accepted the tenets of the so-called Chicago School that has prevailed since the Reagan era. Regulators have largely accepted the school's notion that merger challenges require more than simple measurements of market-share changes. The idea is most associated with the University of Chicago's law and economics departments and many assert that it promotes deregulation and lighter merger enforcement.
Paradoxically, Foer is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where he was an associate law review editor. At the law school he studied under Richard A. Posner and Ronald H. Coase, two leading scholars of the Chicago School.
Recently, the AAI has been calling on the Department of Justice to block Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA) proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and questioning the wisdom of letting Sysco Corp. (SYY) go through with its pending $8.2 billion proposed acquisition of US Foods Inc. The AAI also opposed the terms under which the DOJ approved U.S. Airways Group Inc.'s $11 billion purchase of American Airlines Inc. (AAL) last year.
Foer started the AAI with assistance from consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Among its early funders was Oracle Corp. (ORCL) , which at the time was in dispute with Microsoft Corp. over the operating system giant's competitive practices. Another was online travel booking service Travelocity.com Inc. as it was in disputes with Orbitz Worldwide Inc.
Despite the big name backers, the AAI has operated on small budget and Foer has worked out of his home.
AAI board chairman Robert Skitol said Moss "is ideally positioned to build on Bert's powerful 17-year legacy and to take the AAI in new directions over the years ahead."
Foer said Moss "has been my trusted right hand for 14 years" and "is a skilled competition advocate with strong connections in the antitrust and regulatory communities and has been instrumental in helping build the AAI into a leading, progressive competition advocacy organization."
Moss, an economist, is credited with extending the AAI's competency in several industries that garner major attention from antitrust enforcers, including energy, transportation, agriculture, telecommunications, and healthcare.
Foer, who turned 70 this year, will continue with the AAI in a new half-time role focusing on international competition advocacy and competition culture. "We are delighted that Bert has committed to remain a key member of our Management Committee to support Diana and the AAI in advancing our ambitious agenda for 2015 and thereafter," Skitol said.
Moss previously served as a senior staff economist at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where she coordinated competition analysis for electricity mergers. From 1989 to 1994, she consulted in private practice in the areas of regulation and antitrust at the National Economic Research Associates and consulting firm Putnam, Hayes and Bartlett Inc. She has published articles in a number of economic and legal academic journals, including American Economic Review, Journal of Industrial Organization, the Energy Law Journal, and the Antitrust Bulletin. She is editor of Network Access, Regulation and Antitrust, published in 2005 and is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She holds a M.A. degree from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. from the Colorado School of Mines. She lives in Colorado and will split her time between there and Washington.
Foer's career has included private law practice in the Washington offices of Hogan & Hartson LLP and Jackson & Campbell PC. He also served as assistant director and acting deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition. For 12 years he was also CEO of his family's chain of retail jewelry stores. He has published extensively on competition policy and is editor of The Next Antitrust Agenda and co-editor of The International Handbook on Private Enforcement of Competition Law and of Private Enforcement of Antitrust Law in the United States. In addition to his law degree from the University of Chicago, he also earned an A.B. (magna cum laude) from Brandeis University and an M.A. in political science from Washington University.