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Former Top FTC Antitrust Official Hoffman Joins Cleary Gottlieb

March 3, 2020, 5:11 PM

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has hired the former head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, who during his tenure headed a task force to monitor antitrust issues at large technology companies.

Bruce Hoffman will work in Washington for the firm, which is known for its work representing tech in high-profile antitrust cases both in the U.S. and Europe.

Hoffman joined the FTC in 2017 shortly after arriving at Shearman & Sterling, where he was the global co-head of its antitrust group.

As the FTC’s chief competition enforcer Hoffman led the agency’s antitrust enforcements efforts to investigate technology companies, like Facebook, Inc.

He was behind the commission’s Technology Task Force, which was formed in February 2019 and later became the Technology Enforcement Division. The team is responsible for monitoring anti competitive practices in the sector.

In November, Hoffman stepped down from his post, and was replaced by his deputy and former Kirkland & Ellis partner Ian Conner.

Hoffman will serve as a partner in Cleary’s global antitrust and competition practice.

“Bruce’s arrival adds strength to strength — he has an impeccable track record of leadership and success, and was until recently one of the world’s top antitrust enforcers,” said Cleary Managing Partner Michael Gerstenzang in a statement.

During Hoffman’s roughly two years at the FTC, the agency challenged 42 mergers, including 20 transactions that were either restructured or abandoned as a result of an investigation or agency litigation.

Under his leadership the FTC successfully litigated nine trials, including securing a half-billion dollar judgment against Abbvie and a monopolization lawsuit against Qualcomm.

Hoffman spent roughly two decades in private practice before helming the Bureau of Competition.

In June 2017 he, along with three other partners, joined Shearman from Hunton & Williams, where he was the head of its global competition practice. A month later he was appointed as acting director for the bureau by then-acting chairman and commissioner and now partner and co-chair of Baker Botts’ antitrust and competition practice, Maureen Ohlhausen.

Hoffman said in a statement his time at the FTC was invaluable.

“Now, I’m looking forward to bringing my recent agency experience to Cleary’s outstanding antitrust practice and working with this distinguished team on the most challenging and important antitrust matters in the U.S. and around the world.”

Cleary has represented Google in most of its international probes, including the European Union’s $3 billion antitrust fine accusing the tech giant of rigging its search results.

The firm also scored a major victory last month for T-Mobile in the Southern District of New York, clearing the way for its proposed merger with Sprint.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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