Muris quitting as chairman of FTC; Bush names Majoras


WASHINGTON - Timothy J. Muris said yesterday that he has decided to step down as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

The White House announced that President Bush has selected Deborah P. Majoras, a former top antitrust official at the Justice Department, to succeed him.

Muris said he plans to leave this summer, after remaining at the agency long enough to ensure a smooth transition, said Nancy Ness Judy, an FTC spokeswoman.

As the No. 2 official in the antitrust division, Majoras played a central role in negotiating the government's settlement with Microsoft Corp. nearly three years ago. The agreement, which angered some of Microsoft's rivals and state prosecutors, is likely to be discussed at her Senate confirmation hearing.

Majoras was also involved in a proposed plan to surrender some of the agency's antitrust authority over mergers of media companies to the Justice Department. Critics said the department might not be sufficiently aggressive in scrutinizing such deals.

The plan was scuttled after it ran into fierce opposition from consumer groups and from some lawmakers, notably Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, a South Carolina Democrat, who threatened to hold up the FTC's budget over the issue.

Last year, Majoras left the government to return to the Washington office of Jones Day, the world's sixth-largest law firm. Her clients include such large pharmaceutical and health care companies as Aventis, Novartis and Tenet Healthcare.

Muris said he intends to return to George Mason University, where he taught antitrust law before he became chairman of the agency in 2001, the FTC spokeswoman said.

Muris was selected by Bush after working on the presidential campaign four years ago as an adviser on economic, budget and regulatory issues.

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