U.S. Federal Trade Commission building. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission official Haidee Schwartz left the agency on Wednesday to join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner in Washington.

She will begin work in the firm’s antitrust and competition practice on March 25.

Schwartz spent more than three years at the FTC, most recently as acting deputy director of the Bureau of Competition. Over those years the agency squared off with major companies over a string of proposed combinations, such the merger of prosthetics makers Otto Bock HealthCare and FIH Group Holdings; fantasy sports platforms DraftKings and FanDuel’s attempted merger, and deals involving Staples and others.

Haidee Schwartz, with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Her practice at Akin Gump will capitalize on that government experience, focusing on merger review matters, federal and state nonmerger investigations, and antitrust counseling.

She said she was attracted to Akin Gump by its energetic and entrepreneurial atmosphere and called the antitrust team “top-notch.”

Schwartz said she encountered Akin Gump’s team recently as adversaries in FTC v. Wilhelmsen, related to The Wilhelmsen Group’s attempted acquisition of Drew Marine’s technical solutions business. The FTC argued that the $400 million acquisition violated antitrust laws, ultimately winning an injunction from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to halt the move in July 2018. Both Wilhelmsen and Drew Marine agreed to drop the deal after the court’s injunction.

Schwartz said the Akin Gump team representing Wilhelmsen did an “excellent job” defending its client given the facts in the case.

“Whether advising or guiding clients through the merger review process, Haidee brings a distinctive skillset and background that will make her an ideal complement to our strong team,” said Corey Roush, Akin Gump antitrust and competition practice head, in a statement. “In particular, her intimate knowledge of the Bureau of Competition, coupled with her insights into overseas agencies and trends in antitrust enforcement and litigation, will be especially beneficial for our clients.”

Schwartz said she considered joining other firms, but declined to say which ones.

Before starting at the FTC in 2015, Schwartz was counsel in O’Melveny & Myers’ antitrust and competition practice. She stayed on at O’Melveny for more than eight years, after approximately 14 years in a senior position at Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm.

“Through her combination of public service and private practice, as well as her highly successful public affairs work, Haidee has developed in-depth knowledge of antitrust law and the federal agencies that enforce them,” said Kim Koopersmith, Akin Gump chairwoman, in a statement. “Her depth of experience will be very valuable for our clients.”

Schwartz said Akin Gump’s international presence was particularly appealing, given that large deals often involve multiple agencies spanning six to 12 jurisdictions in governments across the world.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly included AT&T and Time Warner among a list of companies whose recent proposed mergers were challenged by the FTC.