Thomson Reuters Offers to Settle EU Antitrust Case Over Data

Thomson Reuters Corp., the financial news and information provider, has offered to settle a European Union antitrust probe by making it easier for customers to switch suppliers of financial market data.

The European Commission said Thomson Reuters’ commitments would help customers who wanted to use the company’s securities identification codes with competing data feeds, according to a notice published in the EU’s Official Journal today.

“The commitments proposed by Thomson Reuters should allow financial institutions to switch more easily between different providers of financial data and stimulate competition between data vendors,” Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, said in a statement on the regulator’s website.

Almunia increased scrutiny of financial markets earlier this year with probes into whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and 14 other investment banks colluded to shut out rivals from information on the swaps market. He also settled a similar financial data probe into Standard & Poor’s licensing fees for securities identification numbers.

“Thomson Reuters’ proposal has been made in the interests of achieving a rapid resolution, so it can concentrate its efforts on continuing to develop solutions that will benefit the financial marketplace,” said Alan Duerden, a spokesman for the company in London. “The extended usage rights will provide its customers useful support in managing their real-time market data needs in what is an increasingly competitive market.”

Thomson Reuters this month named James Smith to replace Chief Executive Officer Tom Glocer, who will retire after leading the company since its creation in a 2008 merger.

‘All Necessary Information’

Thomson Reuters is offering licenses that would allow customers to use Reuters Instrument Codes to retrieve data from rival suppliers and supply them with “all necessary information” for customers’ computer systems to link the codes with those used by other suppliers.

The European Commission opened an investigation into the Thomson Reuters codes in 2009, saying customers may potentially be locked-in to working with the company because replacing the codes required “a long and costly procedure” to rewrite or reconfigure software applications.

Thomson Reuters’ rivals and customers are asked to respond to the company’s offer and its proposed license fees before they can become final. Regulators can then make the offer binding and drop their antitrust investigation.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with New York-based Thomson Reuters in selling financial and legal information and trading systems.

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