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The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general of the department’s antitrust division, will resign effective June 30, leaving two landmark telecommunications mergers and two major stock market mergers for his successor to grasp. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales called Pate’s service “exemplary.” “Under Pate’s leadership, the detection, prosecution and deterrence of cartel offenses was the division’s highest priority,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “Since he became assistant attorney general, more than $717 million in criminal fines were obtained against 31 corporations and 37 individuals as a result of criminal antitrust prosecutions.” Pate served as a deputy to then-Assistant Attorney General Charles James for two years, beginning in June 2001, until assuming the top job for antitrust matters on June 16, 2003. In addition to overseeing criminal enforcement matters, he ran the division’s merger enforcement program, evaluating the effects of mergers. He sought to block Oracle Corp.’s acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc., a move the courts rejected. Pate started his tenure with a headache over milk. Dairy Farmers of America Inc., a politically powerful farm cooperative that critics accuse of trying to corner the milk supply market, had just acquired Southern Belle Dairy Co. LLC, and the DOJ asked a federal court to force DFA to sell it. Pate has also participated in a range of international efforts aimed at helping antitrust authorities worldwide embrace American-style antitrust enforcement. Pate’s successor must review the pending mergers of New York Stock Exchange Inc. and electronic exchange Archipelago Holdings Inc. and of Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. and Instinet Group Inc. Other big mergers the successor faces will be those of AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications Inc., and Verizon Communications Inc. -MCI Inc. Possible replacements include two of his top deputies, Makan Delrahim, who has close ties to Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Thomas Barnett, an experienced antitrust lawyer. Another in the running is Phil Proger, a staunch Republican who is a partner at Jones Day, the same law firm from which Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras hails. Such a move could create conflict-of-interest problems, and some speculate that would be too much for senators already embroiled in contentious nominations processes to approve. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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