EU raises “serious doubts” over Thomson-Reuters merger

The planned takeover of Reuters news agency by Canadian publisher Thomson raises “serious doubts” about fair competition in the market for financial information, the European Commission warned today.

The Commission was announcing an “in-depth” investigation into the proposed merger, insisting Brussels was not prejudging the final result.

“During its in-depth market investigation, the Commission will notably investigate whether the combination of Thomson and Reuters would be likely to give rise to adverse effects, since the merger combines two leading providers of such data or content” said a Commission statement.

“This may have an impact on other providers of financial information, which integrate the financial products concerned into their own offerings, as well as on financial institutions and final customers of such products.”

Thomson notified the Commission last month of its intention to take a controlling interest in Reuters, automatically triggering a probe under EU merger rules – in addition to an investigation by American authorities.

The Commission statement explained: “The Commission’s initial market investigation indicates that the proposed merger would raise serious doubts as regards adverse effects on competition in several markets of the financial information sector. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation.”

Commission officials now have 90 days- until February 25 next year – to rule on whether the merger of the media giants would “significantly impede” effective competition in Europe, breaching EU merger rules.

A combination of Reuters and Thomson would give Thomson a bigger stake in a market currently dominated by Reuters and Bloomberg.

All three provide financial information to banks, fund managers, corporate groups, wealth managers and traders, as well as trading news for their customers.

Reuters is best known as one of the largest international news agencies, while Toronto-based Thomson specialises in legal, fiscal, accounting and scientific research markets.

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