Thomson buys AFX News but plays down significance

Thomson Financial went out of its way last week to stop any over-zealous journalist or commentator from jumping to the wrong conclusions about its takeover of AFX News, the London-based European financial news service run by Agence France-Presse.
AFX News provides equity-focused business information, financial and economic news to the investment and fund management community. It will complement existing Thomson news properties - Thomson Merger News, Thomson Investment Management News and International Financing Review.
In what some might suggest as an effort to downplay the news, a Thomson spokesman cautioned that the AFX takeover "does not mean that The Thomson Corporation intends to build a general news business – and is not a huge investment in news by Thomson Financial".
Furthermore, he added, "Thomson Financial's approach to news is different from other real-time news wires. We are not trying to replicate a broad, general financial news offering." So no need to worry at Bloomberg or Reuters?
Thomson expects AFX News to be the basis of a European equivalent of Thomson Financial News, the online news service launched in the US in February 2005, which brings together Thomson Financial content with the Dow Jones' MarketWatch service. It already claims to be delivered to over "10,000 desktops".
When rival Reuters covered the story, however, the competition between the services was transparent. The writer nicely conflated two separate items: "Both Thomson and AFX compete with Reuters Group Plc. The news of the acquisition comes just days after Ken Thomson, the company's former chairman and its controlling shareholder, died at age 82. Thomson, also Canada's wealthiest man, passed away Monday morning after suffering an apparent heart attack."
Juicily, Reuters put a figure ($20m) on what the acquisition may have cost Thomson, which hadn't revealed the terms of the deal.
Bloomberg stuck succinctly to bare facts: "Thomson Corp. (TOC CN): The owner of the First Call financial data service agreed to buy AFX News from Agence France-Presse to add a European news service. The terms weren't disclosed. Thomson fell 40 cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$44.90."
We think the takeover will have far wider ramifications than that little footnote of a story suggests.
Source:Information World Review

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