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EU anti-trust regulators probe RICs

European Union anti-trust regulators launched an investigation into Thomson Reuters' coding practice, saying the structure might discourage customers from moving to rival firms.

The European Commission, which polices competition in the 27 EU countries, said the investigation was launched on its own initiative and that it did not imply it had proof of an infringement.

The Commission said it would examine whether Thomson Reuters could prevent clients from mapping Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs) to alternative identification codes of other datafeed suppliers.

"Without the possibility of such mapping, customers may potentially be 'locked'-in to working with Thomson Reuters because replacing RICs by reconfiguring or by rewriting their software applications can be a long and costly procedure," it said in a statement.

RICs identify financial instruments including shares in companies, currencies, and futures contracts. They are used to retrieve information from Thomson Reuters' real-time datafeeds.

Thomson Reuters confirmed it had received a questionnaire from the Commission on the use of RICs and that it was cooperating with the Commission.

"Thomson Reuters provides its customers with consistent, dependable and convenient access to several million financial instruments from almost every electronic trading venue around the world," the company said in a statement. "Thomson Reuters data is reliably and consistently identified by a managed code, which we create and maintain to enable navigation of the company's global content."

Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the European Commission, told a news conference the commission's concern was that Thomson Reuters customers were unable to use alternative market datafeeds alongside the company's service. "There are three actual and potential competitors for Thomson Reuters in this area and none of them have this restriction," he said. ■