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Thomson Reuters Seeks to Overcome EU Antitrust Concerns

May 4 (Bloomberg) -- Thomson Reuters Corp. offered extra commitments to European Union regulators in a bid to settle an antitrust probe over its securities identification codes.

The financial news and information provider made the revised offer after an earlier attempt to end the case failed to satisfy EU demands to make it easier for customers to switch suppliers of market data.

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.

“After reviewing the feedback from the European Commission’s market test, Thomson Reuters submitted a revised offer to the EC which is aimed at addressing the comments of our customers,” said Yvonne Diaz, a spokeswoman for the New York-based company. “It is premature to comment further.”

Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s antitrust commissioner has increased scrutiny of financial markets 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’s also investigating the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate.

Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for Almunia, said the EU had received the commitments. He didn’t give details.

Failed ‘Market Test’

Thomson Reuters Corp.’s earlier bid to settle the case failed a so-called “market test” with customers and competitors, Almunia said in March. He said the company needed to offer an “effective solution” to customers seeking an alternative supplier of data.

Thomson Reuters said in December it would give licenses for customers to use Reuters Instrument Codes to retrieve data from other suppliers and provide them with information for computer systems to link the codes with those used by competitors.

The company, controlled by Chairman David Thomson through a family investment trust, has restructured divisions to focus more on its tax, legal and government compliance businesses. It reported a 26 percent increase in first-quarter profit, helped by a tax benefit.

The Brussels-based commission settled a similar probe into Standard & Poor’s licensing fees for securities identification numbers.

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

To contact the reporters on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net; Jim Brunsden in Brussels at jbrunsden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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