Abruptly and without any warning, the Élysée decided that it was not renewing Isabelle de Silva's contract as the president of France's competition authority the Autorité de la Concurrence from October 13th. The decision, which has reportedly surprised and dismayed government ministers as well as many observers, was taken so late that a successor has not yet been lined up. The main theory to explain Emmanuel Macron's shock move is that the highly-respected De Silva was seen as an obstacle to the proposed merger between two private French TV companies, TF1 and the smaller M6, a tie-up that the Élysée favours. More generally, the independent Autorité de la Concurrence is also seen as a block to Emmanuel Macron's aim of creating large-scale national business champions. Martine Orange reports.