The European Commission has ended its lengthy enquiry into Thomson Reuters’ licensing policies for Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs), accepting commitments from the company that will create a more fluid market for real-time consolidated data feeds. The deal creates a new environment for Thomson Reuters as it finds itself competing in an increasingly open market.
The company welcomed the Commission’s decision – perhaps on the basis of the end of the enquiry rather than the commitments it must stick to – and was quick to point out that its new licensing commitment is consistent with the move it made in June 2012 to make RICS available foruse with non-real-time information in client and non-client financial institutions’ trade processing systems. At that time, Thomson Reuters’ then-Enterprise content chief Gerry Buggy, described the move as the “first step in supporting the financial community’s symbology needs across all parts of the trading life cycle through our evolving symbology services.”
The Commission made its decision to end the enquiry after accepting commitments put forward by Thomson Reuters in May 2012 that were then market tested with a third-party comment period running until August 2012. The commitments have been made legally binding, with the key outcomes being that Thomson Reuters’ customers can continue to use RICs in real-time applications after they have switched to an alternative real-time consolidated data feed provider and use RICs in combination with the alternative provider’s data.
Commenting on the Commission’s decision, Commission vice president of competition policy, Joaquin Almunia, says: “Information plays a key role in ensuring that financial markets operate in a healthy and efficient way. In order to correctly assess investment opportunities, market participants need to access accurate and timely financial data, for example through consolidated real-time data feeds. The commitments offered by Thomson Reuters will enhance competition in this market. Financial institutions that use RICs will now be able to switch to alternative providers more easily.”
Responding to the Commission’s decision to adopt Thomson Reuters’ commitments, David Craig, president of Financial & Risk at the company, says: “Following a detailed examination of the facts, the Commission accepted our proposal without any finding of infringement of EU competition law by Thomson Reuters. We now look forward to continuing to work with our customers to bring world-class, real-time data feed and symbology solutions to market.”
In essence, Thomson Reuters’ commitments allow customers to license additional RICs usage rights for the purpose of switching data vendors and to use RICs for retrieving data from other providers against a monthly licence fee. The company will also provide customers with the necessary information to map RICs to alternative symbology, and allow third parties to develop and maintain switching tools that allow RICs and rival services to interoperate by mapping RICs to the financial identifiers of other data feed providers. Third-party developers can use and keep RICs in their switching tools on payment of a monthly licence.
If the Commission’s decision is favourable for users of consolidated real-time data feeds, it must also be of great interest to their suppliers, with 2013 promising to be both a battleground and a peace mission as suppliers struggle to maintain market share while responding to market demand for more open symbology solutions.