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Would Google Really Buy Thomson Reuters Markets?

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The idea that Google would be interested in – and is indeed seeking to – acquire Thomson Reuters Markets first came to my attention at the London Stock Exchange, oddly enough. I was there for a function, and after a panel discussion about the future of the exchange marketplace, I got chatting with a gentleman from hedge fund Marshall Wace, who suggested Google could solve our market’s connectivity and hosting issues at the drop of a hat; it just needed a catalyst to show it how the world works.

Fast forward to this week’s A-Team Business & Technology of Low Latency Trading event at London’s Brewery, and a huddle in the post-session drinks reception was energetically discussing the way Thomson Reuters Markets’ recent behaviour gave the appearance of a package job; that it was being tidied up for spin off by Thomson Reuters Corporate.

As we all know, budgets there are tight, even as the company is gaining traction for its Elektron hosting offering, one of the key future tentpole services. We have suggested before that Thomson Reuters is looking to offload its risk business, Kondor+ et al. There is no discretionary spending or travel budget for anyone, it would seem. A key management post – that of head of Sales & Trading – remains unfilled.

It all gives the impression of a company being groomed for a sale.

But who would buy?

Google, I suggested. Much sage nodding followed, but no evidence.

This morning, as I packed up the laptop for my trip to New York, into my inbox popped a message from a Middle Eastern source. It said this: “I know you don’t deal in rumours, but I’m hearing that Google was looking at acquiring Thomson Reuters.”

Now, it’s true that the influence of A-Team spreads far and wide, but is it really possible that a bit of chit-chat at our #BTLLT event in London on Tuesday night could reach the Gulf by Thursday morning? In other words, did we start the rumour?

Or, as is more likely, is it founded in the actual fact that Philip Brittan, an old friend who harks back to the days of AstroGamma’s FENICs risk management platform, is joining Thomson Reuters Markets to lead desktop business for Eikon? How so? Because Brittan hails not only from Bloomberg, where he was global head of foreign exchange and economics, but more recently led product management for Finance at – yep, you guessed it – Google.

Is it for real or is it a rumour? Did we inadvertently start a rumour, or did Brittan’s impending arrival at Thomson Reuters?

I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Come and tell us what you think at our Business & Technology of Low Latency Trading in New York next Thursday.

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