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News Giant Reuters Making News Of Its Own

Posted  December 2, 2009

Thomson Reuters is in the news, but probably not for a reason it’s happy about.  The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings against the news and financial data giant concerning a potential infringement of EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant market position related to the company’s coding of its real-time market data feeds.

Specifically, the EC will investigate whether customers or competitors are prevented from “mapping” Reuters Instrument Codes (“RICs”) to alternative identification codes of other data feed suppliers to the detriment of competition.  RICs are short alphanumerical codes that are used to retrieve information about securities from Thomson Reuters’ real-time data feeds.  A subscriber to the Thomson Reuters real-time market datafeed is not permitted to use the RICs alongside a feed from another service provider.  According to the EC, Thomson Reuters has three rivals in this area and none of them have this restriction.

EC officials identified the potential antitrust abuse when they reviewed Thomson’s merger with Reuters last year, but did not act then because it was not relevant to the merger review, which only examined how a newer larger firm would affect competition.  This suggests companies subject to merger reviews by antitrust authorities should be on guard for issues that could be of concern to those authorities, even if the issues do not rise to a level that would endanger the merger itself.

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues,