The surprise business headline this morning was the announcement by Reuters that an undisclosed bid has been made for the company. This matters because Reuters is one of the biggest providers of news in the world. It is also one of the most respected and innovative. Rumours are now flying around the City and media worlds about who wants Reuters and who has the cash (or can borrow it). But, of course, the real target is not the news section of Reuters which is only about 7% of the business. Reuters makes most of its money through financial data provision. I have a soft spot for
Reuters. Partly because I was once a Reuters Fellow at Oxford University and partly because it is a bloody impressive organisation which represents the highest standards in global journalism. Just a few years ago it was looking decidedly out of touch and shakey but it has recovered brilliantly. It retains its authority but now it has added a whole raft of innovative online and digital activities that puts it at the forefront of modern international journalism.
We can only hope that it is taken over by a company that understands Reuters traditions and its wider value as well as its profitability. And that includes the majority financial data business. In a world of online trading it is vital that the integrity of financial reporting is of the highest order.
So who is it going to be? To me, it seems that Murdoch would be seen as unwelcome by Reuters management. Google would be too weird. And groups like Thomson probably don’t have the cash. So expect a shadowy private equity group or a relative outsider to emerge.