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EU court confirms RICs settlement

The European Union's General Court confirmed Thomson Reuters' settlement with EU anti-trust regulators over its securities identification, Reuters Instrument Codes (RICS).

Morningstar, a competitor that provides mutual funds data, research and analysis, asked the EU’s second-highest court to overrule the 2012 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 court said.

EU anti-trust regulators opened an investigation into RICs in October 2009. The Commission was concerned that customers were locked in indefinitely because replacing the codes was too costly to rewrite or reconfigure software applications.

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

Morningstar 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.” ■