EU urges Thomson Reuters to resolve codes probe

By @ibtimes on

News and data provider Thomson Reuters should work to resolve a probe into the codes it allocates to company shares after rival S&P offered a fees cap to settle its own case, the EU's competition chief said on Monday.

I take this opportunity to encourage the company to work with us for a speedy resolution of the case, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a conference at the Cass Business School in London.

The European Commission opened an investigation in November 2009 into the instrument codes used by Thomson Reuters to identify specific stocks, saying the company may have breached EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position.

Earlier on Monday, the Commission said credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's had offered to cap its licensing fees to end an antitrust probe in a move that could help it avert a possible fine.

The EU regulator had, also in November 2009, accused Standard & Poor's of abusing its dominant position by charging abusive prices for distributing its International Securities Identification Numbers (ISINs) in Europe. The regulatory charges followed complaints by several financial institutions and asset managers. The ISIN standard was developed by the International Organization for Standardization to provide cross-border identification for shares and bonds.

FOCUS ON MARKET INFRASTRUCTURE

Almunia also said that EU regulators plan to investigate more widely the control of market data, citing ongoing efforts by the European Commission to overhaul the financial markets as insufficient.

Regulation alone is not enough. Whereas regulation tackles broad structural market failures, you need competition policy to tackle the harmful behavior of individual market participants, Almunia said.

He said it was time for regulators to examine the control and dissemination of market data, to establish whether there was abusive behavior by owners seeking to leverage privileged access to information to foreclose rivals or distort the market.

The Commission last month opened an investigation into the $28 trillion credit default swaps market involving 16 investment banks that include Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Markit and CDS clearing house ICE Clear Europe.

In particular, we should prevent that any one entity or group controls essential infrastructure -- be it a trading platform, a clearing platform or a pre-trading service -- to the benefit of a restricted few, he said.

Almunia did not mention on Monday the proposed bid by Deutsche Boerse to acquire NYSE Euronext to form the world's largest exchange operator, but in March he highlighted the implications for competition of the German-based exchange's one-stop shop business model.

A merged Deutsche Boerse-NYSE Euronext group would dominate exchange-based European derivatives trading.

(Editing by Andrew Callus)

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