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EU clears Thomson takeover of Reuters

Canadian electronic publisher Thomson Corp won conditional permission from the European Commission on Tuesday to buy Reuters, a deal, that will create the world’s leading provider of news and data for professional markets.

The EU executive said, the deal, as proposed had raised concerns about so-called “aftermarket broker research reports”, which provide data, such as financial statements, financial ratios and earnings per share. It said the deal “would have eliminated rivalry between the two main suppliers of such databases in the marketplace, both at the worldwide and EEA (European Economic Area) level, leaving financial institutions and customers of such products with a reduced choice”. The Commission said Thomson and Reuters had agreed to divest databases with financial information products, and the associated assets, employees and customer base in order to promote competition. It said that sell-off would allow purchasers to “quickly establish themselves as a credible competitive force in the marketplace in competition with the merged entity”.

Thomson announced its takeover in May with a deal that, when closed will see Reuters shareholders get 352-1/2 pence in cash and 0.16 of one Thomson share for each Reuters share held. The deal values Reuters at around 634 pence or £7.9 billion ($15.4 billion), based on the value of the two companies shares shortly after the regulators’ decisions were released. The Commission embarked on an in-depth probe in October given its initial investigation indicated the deal could hurt competition in markets within the financial information sector. Thomson and Reuters have said they expect to make over $500 million of annual synergies, within three years of completion. The US Department of Justice has yet to make its findings known. The transaction also requires shareholder and court approval, which could take several weeks before the takeover closes. (Reuters)