European Commission approves Reuters/Thomson merger

The European Commission has approved the acquisition of Reuters by Thomson – subject to certain conditions being fulfilled.

The Commission was concerned that range of information services – rather than the news side of the respective businesses – supplied by the companies would be reduced and that the creation of a sole provider of analytical market information would be detrimental to customers.

The companies therefore agreed to a range of measures to limit this impact.

“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,” Neelie Kroes, competition commissioner, said in a statement.

The Commission originally raised concern that markets for the distribution of certain reports and financial data would be ill served by the merger as it may reduce choice, encourage the ‘likelihood of price increases’ and a ‘severe risk of discontinuation of overlapping products.’

The statement from the Commission stated: “To remove the Commission’s competition concerns, the parties committed to divest the databases containing the content sets of such financial information products, together with relevant assets, personnel and customer base as appropriate to allow purchasers of the databases and assets to quickly establish themselves as a credible competitive force in the marketplace in competition with the merged entity, re-establishing the pre-merger rivalry in the respective fields.

“Therefore, customers of such financial information products would continue to have sufficient alternatives post-merger.”

The statement added that the US Department of Justice would propose a settlement agreement consistent with the remedies accepted by the Commission.

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