On February 19, 2008, the Antitrust Division entered into a settlement agreement requiring The Thomson Corporation (“Thomson”) to sell financial data and related assets in three markets for financial data in order to proceed with Thomson’s proposed $17 billion acquisition of Reuters Group PLC (“Reuters”).
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Thomson and Reuters must sell copies of the data contained in the following products: Thomson’s WorldScope, a global fundamentals product; Reuters Estimates, an earnings estimates product; and Reuters Aftermarket Research Database, an analyst research distribution product. The proposed settlement further requires the licensing of related intellectual property, access to personnel and transitional support to ensure that the buyer of each set of data can continue to update its database so as to continue to offer users a viable and competitive product. The EC also required the sale of a copy of Reuters Economics. The DOJ must approve the buyer, but the deal can close while awaiting a buyer to either step forward or be approved.
Allegedly, the transaction as proposed likely would have resulted in higher prices to purchasers of three important types of financial data used by investment managers, investment bankers, traders, corporate managers, and other institutional customers in making investment decisions and providing advice to their firms and clients.
While it has not always been the case that the DOJ and the EC staffs have closed investigations at the same time, the Reuters/Thomson investigation demonstrates how closely the EC and DOJ staffs actually work together on investigations. Both investigations were closed on the same day and the settlement agreements were in line with each other.