Credit rating agency S&P has offered a settlement deal in an EU market abuse probe of financial identifier code pricing and data provider Thomson Reuters should work to resolve a similar case, the EU said on Monday.

I take this opportunity to encourage the company (Thomson Reuters) 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 after a statement in which he announced the S&P move.

Earlier, Almunia said S&P, owned by publisher McGraw Hill , is committing to address our competition concerns by limiting its price for the distribution of identification numbers for U.S. securities and by abolishing charges altogether for those indirect users that get the numbers from other companies.

The European Commission opened both investigations in November 2009.

It announced it was investigating the instrument codes used by Thomson Reuters to identify the shares of companies, saying it may have breached EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position.

The S&P probe centered on whether it was abusing its dominant position by charging abusive prices for distributing its International Securities Identification Numbers (ISINs). 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.

Thomson Reuters Markets division Chief Executive Devin Wenig told a panel at the same conference that he would not comment on directly on Almunia's request, but he expressed optimism that the issue would be resolved.

For a hundred and fifty years we have worked cooperatively with regulators and we believe that we'll reach an efficient solution this time as well, Wenig said.


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.

(Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Chris Wickham)