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Thomson Reuters boss - "Reuters is not for sale"

Thomson Reuters chief executive Steve Hasker says he will not sell Reuters news, as some analysts have suggested, despite it being one of the company's smallest revenue sources.

Hasker told the Financial Times in an interview: “Reuters is not for sale. Reuters is an integral part of our portfolio.”

Reuters news contributed only about a tenth of the group’s revenues in 2023, according to the company. The FT said this had prompted analysts to ask whether it should remain part of a group now focused more on being a technology company for professional services.

Hasker said Reuters news could already benefit from the company’s drive to boost its artificial intelligence capability with a tool that helped create ideas for stories. “I’ve been here for four-and-a-bit years and we have worked really hard to make these parts of the business work together.”

Hasker said Thomson Reuters has “tremendous financial power” of  $8bn to spend on acquisitions and investments in artificial intelligence that will boost its core information offering for lawyers, accountants and other professionals.

Hasker said Thomson Reuters had built this AI war chest partly as a result of selling down its stake in the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), and intended to unload the rest of its holding next year.  

TR acquired the stake when LSEG purchased its financial data business Refinitiv in 2019.

Hasker said the company planned to spend more than $100 million on developing its own AI every year, saying the technology was one of the tailwinds propelling growth.

He said currently about 80 percent of the group’s revenues came from the United States but he wanted to rebalance that in the next three to five years by boosting growth in other parts of the globe from Brazil to Japan.  

Hasker said the Thomson family, who own almost 70 percent of the group, were “happy with the performance of the business, both in terms of the dividends and the accretion in the stock price over the last number of years, so don’t intend to do anything but continue to support us in the long term.” David Thomson, the company’s chair, is Canada’s richest man.

Hasker said Thomson Reuters had examined creating a paywall for news services, like its major rival Bloomberg, but for the moment it was focused on serving its largest customer, LSEG, and agency clients.