EU court confirms Thomson Reuters coding settlement

September 15, 2016 3:59 AM EDT

The logo of Thomson Reuters is pictured at the entrance of its Paris headquarters, France, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo


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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's second-highest court confirmed on Thursday Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI) 2012 settlement with EU antitrust regulators over its securities identification, or Reuters Instrument Codes (RICS).

Morningstar (NASDAQ: MORN), a competitor of Thomson Reuters that provides mutual funds data, research and analysis, asked the court to overrule the agreement with the European Commission in 2014, saying Thomson Reuters continued to abuse its dominant position by not allowing competitors to provide a comparable service of real-time data streams.

"The General Court concludes that the commitments proposed by Thomson Reuters were correctly assessed as being capable of resolving the concerns raised by the Commission and that the latter therefore did not commit a manifest error of assessment in accepting those commitments," the Luxembourg-based General Court said.

EU anti-trust regulators opened an investigation into the Reuters Instrument Codes in October 2009. The Commission was concerned customers of the information and news provider were locked in indefinitely because replacing the Reuters Instrument Codes was too costly to rewrite or reconfigure software applications.

The Commission agreed to a Thomson Reuters plan to grant licenses to its clients to enable them to use RICs to retrieve data from competitors' real-time data feeds.

However, Morningstar has argued that competitors remained unable to offer a comparable and competing service.

"The General Court observes that Thomson Reuters offered its customers and third-party developers the possibility to set up mapping tables between the RIC codes and the symbol system used by the new provider, with the result that the modifications to be made to the applications are not excessively costly," the court said in a statement.

"Those commitments therefore represent a genuine improvement for Thomson Reuters’ customers since, in the absence of the need extensively to modify IT applications, they do not face prohibitive costs during a possible switch of providers," it said.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Robin Emmott)



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