Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras plans to leave the nation's capital for a plum spot in the legal department at Procter & Gamble Co. of Cincinnati, according to numerous antitrust sources.
A spokeswoman for Majoras did not respond to requests for comment but a Procter & Gamble press representative said the person "handling that issue" was out of the office on travel. That person did not return a call.
When Majoras leaves, most likely next month, antitrust lawyers expect President Bush to make Commissioner Bill Kovacic chairman, though it's not clear whether he will also try to appoint another commissioner. At this late date in the administration, a nomination could easily run aground during the Senate process.
Washington sources said Majoras will be named a P&G deputy general counsel, with an inside track at becoming P&G's chief legal officer a couple of years down the road.
Earlier this month, P&G announced that chief legal officer James J. Johnson is set to retire June 1 and Steven W. Jemison, now deputy general counsel, will succeed him. Jemison, 56, is not far from retirement age himself and his eventual departure could create an opening for Majoras to run the company's legal department.
The move would be similar to one by former FTC general counsel Debra Valentine, who joined United Technologies Corp.'s legal department in 2004 and has since moved up. It would also borrow from the playbook of Majoras' mentor at her former law firm Jones Day, Charles James. James was the head of the antitrust division at the Department of Justice from April 2001 to October 2002, when he left to become a vice president and general counsel of oil giant Chevron Corp.
Majoras' departure would be no surprise, given that the Bush administration is drawing to a close and many senior officials are looking to secure their next jobs. Until recently, many antitrust lawyers speculated that Majoras would return to Jones Day, where she had been a partner.
During her tenure, the FTC reviewed and approved P&G's 2005, $57 billion acquisition of Gillette Co. Majoras was recused from that decision -- which was conditionally approved on a package of divestitures -- because Jones Day was involved. In fact, only two of her colleagues, Commissioners Thomas Leary and Jon Leibowitz, actually voted on the matter. The decision was an unusual case that permitted a majority of the voting commissioners -- not a majority of the five-member panel -- to make a decision about a huge deal. Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour was also recused, and the other FTC seat was open.
Joining to P&G will allow Majoras to re-establish her Ohio connections. Though she lives in McLean, Va., and grew up in Pennsylvania, she is an ardent Cleveland Browns fan and worked at Jones Day offices in Ohio before her move to Washington in 2001 to serve as deputy to James. After he left, she became acting assistant attorney general before Hewitt Pate, now a partner at Hunton & Williams, took the top antitrust job.
Majoras returned to Jones Day only briefly; she was appointed to the top slot at the FTC in August 2004 to fill out the remainder of former Chairman Tim Muris' term.
Majoras graduated from the University of Virginia Law School after attending Westminster College, a Presbyterian liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.
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