Shares lift as Reuters hits back in Bloomberg inquiry

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The Independent Online
Reuters, the financial information group, yesterday ended its silence over the criminal inquiry into its US subsidiary in an attempt to placate its shareholders, who have seen the company's stock fall by one-fifth in the past fortnight. Peter Thal Larsen reports.

Reuters' shares staged a recovery even though the company's explanation shed little light on the affair.

Federal prosecutors are currently investigating Reuters Analytics, the US subsidiary which collects and distributes data on US bonds, about its alleged use of information owned by Bloomberg, the rival information group. The company had previously refused to comment on any aspect of the case.

The silence has led to a frenzy of speculation, with reports from the US alleging that Reuters had used Bloomberg's information in its own products and that it had hacked into its rival's central computer in order to steal computer code.

Reuters yesterday confirmed that Reuters Analytics was being investigated about a deal with a consultant in New York who subscribed to information from Bloomberg. The inquiry is looking at whether the consultant was encouraged to pass the Bloomberg information on to Reuters, and whether Reuters incorporated that data into its own products.

However, the company claimed that prosecutors were investigating attempts to break into the Bloomberg central computer in order to steal its rival's code. Moreover, Reuters said it "has no knowledge of any such activity".

The company also insisted that, on its current information, it would not have to withdraw any of its products. Analysts had suggested that Reuters might have to withdraw its new Reuters 3000 product, which combines information and analytical tools, if it contained stolen information.

However, the announcement said that the current investigation will be extended to "other individuals and entities outside Reuters Analytics". A spokesman refused to elaborate on the statement.

Reuters shares finished the day up 40p to 560p as investors welcomed the information. They have fallen from 636p since news of the investigation broke. Earlier in the day, several influential analysts had recommended buying the shares, arguing that the share price fall was overdone.