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CEO sees Thomson Reuters among 'info majors'
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The new Thomson Reuters Corp may compete most directly with Bloomberg LP and Reed Elsevier, but Chief Executive Tom Glocer thinks the company also may jostle with Google Inc and Microsoft Corp.
"There are going to be a handful of 'information majors,'" Glocer, 48, said in an interview in his office at the Reuters building in Times Square on the eve of Canadian publisher Thomson Corp's completion of its more than $16 billion purchase of Reuters Group Plc.
"We're all going to keep an eye on each other," Glocer said. "We're all going to compete in some areas, cooperate in some others."
Thomson Reuters, which begins trading in London, Toronto and New York on Thursday, will be known primarily for its worldwide news service, data products and technology for financial professionals and its portfolio of products serving the legal, scientific, accounting and health-care sectors.
Behind that is Glocer's idea of what he calls "intelligent information" -- his longer-term goal of lacing data sources from both companies together. He wants to offer people easy access to the information they need to do their jobs -- and wants them to pay for the convenience.
Most of these tools have a low profile in the eyes of the public, but Glocer prefers to focus most on that field rather than competing directly against the Googles and Microsofts of the world in the wider consumer space.
"We are not going to own a film studio. We are not going to launch a teenage social networking service," he said, referring to News Corp properties 20th Century Fox and the MySpace social networking site.
"We're really focused only on professionals, people who will pay us for our content and services," he said. "What would you pay me for tomorrow's New York weather forecast? Probably nothing."
On the other hand, he said, an insurance company might pay dearly for getting "bespoke, proprietary meteorological content on the long-range hurricane forecast for Florida in the 2008 hurricane season."
"You'll pay me for that if I can improve the profitability of your underwriting book as a result," Glocer said.
Still, information and communications conglomerates have a way of growing into new territory over time, Glocer noted.
"I think Google is clearly there as the monetization device for lots of consumer content. The question mark is if they want to get into anything other than the low end of professional," he said. "I think News Corp-Dow Jones has a potential seat at the table. I think Microsoft-Yahoo does if they pull it off (merge) and if Microsoft embraces content more than it has before."
While Glocer is largely sticking to professional services, he does embrace free, new ways to communicate to the world. He maintains a profile on the Facebook social network and is the proprietor of a blog at tomglocer.com. He also gave the green light to Reuters to set up a news bureau in Second Life, a virtual world on the Internet.
Glocer was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer with New York's Davis Polk & Wardwell before joining Reuters in 1993 as a vice president and deputy counsel, and went on to hold positions as general counsel and chief of Latin America.
In July 2001, he became CEO, eight years after joining the company -- and just before a global market slump that led to falling revenue and the company's first loss since 1984.
In the near future, Thomson Reuters will have to negotiate another perilous financial landscape.
"We're not immune to the financial cycle," Glocer said. "There's clearly been an enormous dislocation in the credit markets, which have pulled down a whole bunch of funds and obviously Bear Stearns as well."
But he said that Reuters' foreign exchange business is producing record volumes and revenue, as are its commodities and energy information businesses.
"I'm more concerned about the effects of the financial crisis on the real economy and what are the implications of a real recession than the doom and gloom stories specifically about finance," he said.
And while Thomson Reuters builds up its position in financial news and data, Glocer said he cannot imagine the company without a general and political news division, including entertainment coverage, because it is all "so incredibly intertwined into the economy."
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