European Commission extends probe into Thomson Reuters RIC licensing

European Commission extends probe into Thomson Reuters RIC licensing

The European Commission is consulting on fresh attempts from Thomson Reuters to shrug off a three-year antitrust probe into the licensing of Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs).

In 2009 the European Commission opened antitrust proceedings against Thomson Reuters over possible abuse of its dominant market position in the supply of RICs - codes that identify securities and are used by financial institutions to retrieve data from Thomson Reuters' real-time feeds.

The EC argued that the firm's strict licensing controls stopped customers from using RICs for retrieving data from alternative providers and mapping them to alternative symbols.

In an attempt to ward off further action by the Commission, the vendor initially agreed to let customers license RICs for mapping purposes over a five-year period for a monthly fee based on the number of RIC symbols to be used.

However, initial market tests of the new measures "failed to deliver a desirable outcome", said the Commission, forcing Thomson Reuters to revise its proposals. Last month, the group unveiled a new initiative that extends the scope of the license and reduces the fee.

If the outcome of this second market test passes muster, the Commission says it may adopt a decision under Article 9 of the Antitrust Regulation 1/2003, making the commitments legally binding on Thomson Reuters without concluding whether EU antitrust law was infringed.

Thomson Reuters has welcomed the Commission's investigation. "The revised remedy proposal reflects several months of detailed discussion with the European Commission and Thomson Reuters is pleased to be taking this important step towards resolution of the Commission's case," states the vendor. "Thomson Reuters does not believe it has violated EU competition law, nor has the European Commission made any finding of infringement against the firm.

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