Friday, May 04, 2007

Reed Elsevier and Thomson Corp could carve up Reuters

Reuters has received a takeover approach. The Reuters (!) news service mentions Thomson Corp and News Corp as possible suitors.

I am surprised Reed Elsevier isn't mentioned. They are selling Harcourt (the education unit), reducing the company to a 3-trick pony. Thomson could be interested in the news business (avoiding FCC/FTC scrutiny, which would almost certainly result from combining Reuters and Thomson Financial), even if this is a minor part. Thomson recently stated they want to create their own news service, built upon the AFX buy, to be launched this month. In short, Reed and Thomson could carve up Reuters.

News Corp being mentioned, after their Dow Jones approach, seems a bit silly, but I do think it points to a trend. Piracy, P2P file-sharing and user-generated content undermine the value of B2C content. Hence, B2C companies seem to take interest in more valuable B2B assets. Not public data (that Google's Gapminder helps disclose), research funded by government bodies (under attack from the open access movement led by people like Stevan Harnad and Peter Suber), or even stock prices that used to fuel Reuters' profits. But 'must-have' content that the B2B conglomerats are focusing on.

That could spark another round of bid and break-up speculation.

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