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EU Eyes Competition Implications Of Thomson-Reuters Merger

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

10 October 2007

It emerged this week that the European Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation under EU Merger Regulations into the proposed combination of Canada's Thomson and the UK's Reuters news services.

Both Thomson and Reuters are leading financial information providers. The companies source, aggregate and disseminate market data content needed by financial professionals such as banks, fund managers, corporates, wealth managers and traders. Both companies also provide trading capabilities to their customers. In addition, Thomson is active in legal, fiscal, accounting and scientific research markets, whereas Reuters is best known as one of the largest international news agencies.

The Commission’s initial market investigation indicated that the proposed merger would raise serious doubts with regard to adverse effects on competition in several markets of the financial information sector.

However, the decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days (until 25 February 2008) to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

On 3 September 2007, Thomson notified the Commission of its project to acquire Reuters' activities through a dual listed company structure which would be controlled by Thomson.

The EC confirmed that:

"The Commission's initial market investigation highlighted that the concentration would raise competition concerns notably with regard to the supply of financial information, such as the provision of data-feeds, the access to specific financial information databases commercialised by the notifying parties, the access to real-time and aftermarket research (broker reports) and the provision of news services. Most of these products are predominantly used in off-trading floor activities of financial institutions."

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