Regulators greenlight Thomson/Reuters merger

Regulators greenlight Thomson/Reuters merger

The European Commission (EC), US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Canadian Competition Bureau (CCB) have approved Thomson Corporation's £8.7 billion proposed acquisition of Reuters, on condition that the companies sell off some of their respective financial data units in order to eliminate competition concerns.

In order to gain full clearance Thomson and Reuters must, within 60 days, sell copies of three financial datasets and "license related intellectual property" to firms that will use the data to provide products and services in competition with the combined entity.

The datasets singled out by the regulators include Thomson's WorldScope, Reuters Estimates and Reuters Aftermarket (Embargoed) Research Database.

In a statement the DoJ says the original transaction would have resulted in "higher prices to purchasers of three important types of financial data used by investment managers, investment bankers, traders, corporate managers and other institutional customers".

The EC echoed this finding, saying that an in-depth investigation showed that the original terms of the merger would have raised competition concerns in the markets for the "distribution of aftermarket broker research reports, of earning estimates, of fundamental financial data of enterprises and of time series of economic data".

In response to US and EC concerns Thomson has agreed to sell copies of its Fundamentals (Worldscope) database while Reuters will sell copies of its Estimates, Aftermarket Research and Economics (EcoWin) databases. The sales include copies of the databases, source data and training materials, as well as certain contracts and employees connected to the databases.

Says EC Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes: "The merging parties have offered a remedies package that provides strong safeguards that users of financial data will not be harmed by this major consolidation."

The two companies are now awaiting shareholder and court approvals but expect the transaction to close the week of 13 April.

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