|Former type||Public limited company|
|Fate||Acquired by The Thomson Corporation|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
Reuters Group was best known for the Reuters news agency, which was the original business of the company. By the time of its merger with Thomson the bulk of Reuters Group's revenues came from the provision of financial market data, with news reporting comprising less than 10% of its turnover.
Paul Julius Reuter noticed that, with the electric telegraph, news no longer required days or weeks to travel long distances. In the 1850s, the 34-year-old Reuter was based in Aachen – then in the Kingdom of Prussia, now in Germany – close to the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. He began using the newly opened Berlin–Aachen telegraph line to send news to Berlin. However, the telegraph did not extend the 76 miles (122 km) to Brussels, Belgium's capital city and financial center. Reuter saw an opportunity to speed up news service between Brussels and Berlin by using homing pigeons to bridge that gap.
In 1851, Reuter moved to London. After failures in 1847 and 1850, attempts by the Submarine Telegraph Company to lay an undersea telegraph cable across the English Channel, from Dover to Calais, promised success. Reuter set up his "Submarine Telegraph" office in October 1851 just before the opening of that undersea cable in November, and he negotiated a contract with the London Stock Exchange to provide stock prices from exchanges in continental Europe in return for access to the London prices, which he then supplied to stockbrokers in Paris. In 1865, Reuter's private firm was restructured, and it became a limited company (a corporation) called the Reuter's Telegram Company. Reuter had been naturalised as a British subject in 1857.
Reuter's agency built a reputation in Europe for being the first to report news scoops from abroad, such as Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Almost every major news outlet in the world now subscribes to Reuters' services, which operates in over 200 cities in 94 countries in about 20 languages.
Reuters was financed as a public company in 1984 on the London Stock Exchange and on the NASDAQ in the United States. However, there were concerns that the company's tradition for objective reporting might be jeopardised if control of the company later fell into the hands of a single shareholder. To counter that possibility, the constitution of the company at the time of the stock offering included a rule that no individual was allowed to own more than 15% of the company. If this limit is exceeded, the directors can order the shareholder to reduce the holding to less than 15%. That rule was applied in the late 1980s when Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which already held around 15% of Reuters, bought an Australian news company that also owned stock in Reuters. Murdoch was subsequently compelled to reduce his holdings to less than 15%.
Further protecting Reuters from owner actions that might threaten its independence is Reuters Founders Share Company Limited, formed in 1984 as part of the share float. This company's stated mission is to protect the integrity of the company's news output. It holds one "Founders Share," which can veto all other shares if an attempt is made to alter any of the rules relating to the Reuters Trust Principles. These principles set out the company's aims of independence, integrity, and freedom from bias in its news reporting. Subsequent to the forming of Thomson Reuters the trust principles continued, with the RFSC now holding a Founders Share in each of Thomson Reuters Corporation and Thomson Reuters PLC.
Reuters grew rapidly after its 1984 IPO, widening the range of its business products and global reporting network for media, financial and economic services. In 1988, Reuters formed a joint-venture with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to build an automated futures trading system named "Globex" at a cost of over US$100 million. Key product launches include Equities 2000 (1987), Dealing 2000-2 (1992), Business Briefing (1994), Reuters Television for the financial markets (1994), 3000 Series (1996) and the Reuters 3000 Xtra service (1999). In the mid-1990s, the Reuters company engaged in a brief foray in the radio sector – with London Radio's two radio stations, London News 97.3 FM and London News Talk 1152 AM. A Reuters Radio News service was also set up to compete with the Independent Radio News. In 1995, Reuters established its "Greenhouse Fund" to take minority investments in start-up technology companies, initially in the USA, only. In October 2007, Reuters Market Light, a division of Reuters, launched a mobile phone service for Indian farmers to provide local and customised commodity pricing information, news, and weather updates.
On 15 May 2007, Canada's The Thomson Corporation acquired Reuters in a deal valued at US$17.6 billion. Thomson controlled about 53 percent of the new company, named Thomson Reuters. Tom Glocer, the former head of Reuters became the CEO of Thomson Reuters. An earlier rule of 15-percent maximum ownership was waived; the reason as given by Pehr Gyllenhammar, the chairman of the Reuters Founders Share Company, as that the "future of Reuters takes precedence over the principles. If Reuters were not strong enough to continue on its own, the principles would have no meaning." citing the recent bad financial performance of the company. The acquisition was closed on 17 April 2008.
From 1939, corporate headquarters were in London's famous Fleet Street in a building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. In 2005, Reuters moved to a larger building in the more modern Canary Wharf. The Reuters Building at 30 South Colonnade is near the One Canada Square tower, Jubilee Park and Canary Wharf tube station. The open space below the Reuters building has since been renamed Reuters Plaza.
The company's North American headquarters were the Reuters Building at 3 Times Square, New York. It is on Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, and was constructed from 1998 to 2001. Asian headquarters were located in Singapore, having moved there from Hong Kong ahead of the British handover to China in 1997. It had two offices in Singapore, one in the city centre at One Raffles Quay, and another at 18 Science Park Drive next to the National University of Singapore.
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