* Baer's nomination to antitrust division widely expected
* Baer heads antitrust practice group at Arnold & Porter
* Baer would replace Sharis Pozen at DOJ's antitrust unit
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON, Feb 3 William Baer, an
attorney with the law firm Arnold and Porter LLP, was nominated
by President Barack Obama on Friday to head the Justice
Department's antitrust division.
Baer, who is the chair of Arnold and Porter's Antitrust
Practice Group, also previously headed the Federal Trade
Commission's competition division when it stopped a merger
between Staples and Office Depot in 1997.
He will replace Sharis Pozen, the acting assistant attorney
general for antitrust, who plans to step down at the end of
April. Pozen succeeded Christine Varney, who left last August.
Baer's nomination, which was widely expected, still must be
confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
The antitrust division of the Justice Department reviews
mergers to make sure they comply with antitrust laws, and it
also prosecutes price-fixing.
Last year, the division successfully opposed AT&T Inc's
$39 billion deal to acquire wireless rival T-Mobile USA ,
and in May it threatened to sue if NASDAQ OMX Group and
IntercontinentalExchange Inc proceeded with a bid for
Baer is seen as someone who would continue the present
policies of the Justice Department's antitrust office.
The division's key outstanding cases include the purchase
of Nortel's patent assets by a consortium led by Apple,
and Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility. It
also has a number of criminal price-fixing probes.