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Thomson Reuters Offer Accepted by EU to End Antitrust Probe

Thomson Reuters Corp.’s offer to create a new license for securities identification codes was accepted by European Union regulators to settle an antitrust probe.

The company’s proposal means that so-called Reuters Instrument Codes will work better with rival services, according to an e-mailed statement today from the European Commission, the Brussels-based antitrust authority. Customers will also have greater possibility “to switch to competing providers of consolidated real-time data-feeds,” it said.

“The commitments offered by Thomson Reuters will enhance competition in this market,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in the statement. “Financial institutions that use Reuters Instrument Codes will now be able to switch to alternative providers more easily.”

Regulators 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. The agency last year settled a similar probe into Standard & Poor’s licensing fees for securities identification numbers.

Data Feed

“Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close with no finding of liability,” Thomson Reuters said in an e-mailed statement. The company’s pledge to regulators will allow customers to continue to use codes “with data from an alternative consolidated data feed provider,” it said.

Thomson Reuters’s initial offer to settle the probe wasn’t accepted by rivals and customers, EU regulators said earlier this year. The company made a second offer in July.

An EU settlement avoids any decision on whether a company broke antitrust rules. Thomson Reuters can be fined as much as 10 percent of its yearly revenue if it breaks the terms of the legally binding settlement.

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

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