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Reuters Group plc is best known as a news service that provides reports from around the world to newspapers and broadcasters. However, news reporting accounts for less than 10% of the company's income. Its main focus is on supplying the financial markets with information and trading products. These include market data, such as share prices and currency rates, research and analytics, as well as trading systems that allow dealers to buy and sell such things as currencies and shares on a computer screen instead of by telephone or on a trading floor like that of the New York Stock Exchange. Primary competitor - Bloomberg.



The company was founded by Paul Julius Reuter, a German-Jewish immigrant to London who as early as 1851 began transmitting stock-market quotes between Paris and London via the new Calais-Dover telegraph cable.

Reuters Data Centre, London. For more information, click on the picture
Reuters Data Centre, London. For more information, click on the picture

Reuter's agency built a reputation in Europe for being the first to report scoops from abroad, like the news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Today, almost every major news outlet in the world subscribes to Reuters. It operates in 200 cities in 94 countries, supplying text in 19 languages.

Reuters was floated as a public company in 1984 on the London Stock Exchange and on NASDAQ in the US. 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 this possibility, the constitution of the company at the time of flotation included a rule that no individual was allowed to hold 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%. This 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 which also had a holding in Reuters. The acquisition meant that Murdoch then held more than 15% and he was obliged to reduce the holding to less than 15% in line with the rules.

At the same time, as a further measure to protect the independence of Reuters news reporting, The Reuters Founders Share Company was set up. This is a company whose sole task is to protect the integrity of the company's news output. It holds one "Founders Share" which can outvote all other shares in the event that an attempt is made to alter any of the rules relating to the Reuters Trust Principles. These principles set out the company's aim to preserve its independence, integrity and freedom from bias in its news reporting [[1]]

Reuters began to grow rapidly in the 1980s, widening the range of its business products and expanding its global reporting network for media, financial and economic services. Recent 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 company had a brief foray into the radio sector with London Radio's two stations, London News 97.3 FM and London News Talk 1152 AM, which replaced LBC in 1994. A Reuters Radio News service was also set up to compete with Independent Radio News.

In 1995, Reuters established its "Greenhouse Fund" to take minority investments in a range of start-up technology companies, initially in the United States.

In 1940, Edward G. Robinson starred in a Hollywood film about the company called A Dispatch from Reuters.


Notable investments include:

  • Factiva:

In May 1999, Reuters entered a joint venture with long-time rival, Dow Jones & Company, to form Factiva [2], a business news and information provider.

  • TIBCO Software:

In July 1999 TIBCO completed an IPO on NASDAQ; Reuters retains a substantial proportion of the shares. Reuters announced in early 2000 a range of major initiatives designed to accelerate its use of internet technologies, open new markets and migrate its core business to an internet-based model.

  • Instinet:

In May 2001 Instinet completed an IPO on NASDAQ; Reuters retains the majority of the shares.

  • Bridge Information Systems:

On September 28, 2001, completed the largest acquisition in its history acquired certain businesses and assets of Bridge Information Systems Inc. Also during the year, the Group acquired 100% of Diagram fip SA and 92% of ProTrader Group LP. In October 2001, the Group disposed of its majority stake in VentureOne Corp.

  • Inc.:

In March 2003, Reuters acquired, Inc., a provider of global financial information.

Allegations of bias

Reuters has asserted adherence to principles of journalistic integrity ([3]). However, the company, along with many other major media organizations, has been accused by American right-wing and conservative people of showing left-wing or liberal bias. It has been pejoratively referred to as Al Reuters which is a reference to the Al Jazeera television channel. Similarly, Reuters is accused by the left of exhibiting a pro-west and pro-corporate bias, being itself a western multinational corporation, based in London.

Accusations of bias are often prompted by the use of neutral words such as 'militants' or 'guerrillas'. Paradoxically, many media organizations that use these terms are, in fact, aiming to eliminate bias, on the basis that one person's "terrorist" is another person's "freedom fighter"; these words are avoided because they imply that the writer either supports or opposes the attacks carried out by such people.

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