EC sets deadline for Reuters takeover bid

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BRUSSELS -- The European Commission has set a deadline of Oct. 8 to decide whether it will clear Canadian electronic publisher Thomson's $17.5 billion takeover of news and information provider Reuters without conditions.

However, media rivals are expected to raise formal objections to a quick clearance of the deal, which would oblige the commission -- the European Union's antitrust authority -- to launch an in-depth, three-month inquiry into the planned merger.

With both companies holding extended media portfolios in markets across the EU, the commission is expected to demand sell-offs or changes in the way they do business.

The merged company will reduce the number of major providers in financial data provision market from three to two, with Thomson-Reuters holding a combined market share of 34% and Bloomberg 33%. However, Thomson insists there will be at least 20 competitors in its markets. And there are other wire services that compete with them on the broader news front, including the Associated Press, Dow Jones Newswires and Agence France Presse.

The two companies complement each other geographically. London-based Reuters is more focused on Europe, while Toronto-based Thomson is stronger in North America. Reuters, with 16,800 staff in more than 130 countries, would increase Thomson's sales to $11 billion and triple its share of the financial data market.

The CEO of the combined entity is set to be Reuters' current chief executive Tom Glocer. The chairman will be David Thompson, Thomson's current head.
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