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LSE offers rivals access to data, clearing in EU pledge: sources

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - London Stock Exchange LSE.L has offered to allow rivals non-discriminatory access to clearing and data to try and win over antitrust regulators investigating its $27 billion bid for data provider Refinitiv, people familiar with the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The pledge is part of a package submitted to the European Commission earlier on Thursday, which also included the sale of its Borsa Italiana operations to pan-European exchange Euronext ENX.PA.

The European Union competition enforcer is concerned that creating a more vertically integrated company that combines the origination and distribution of data, and strengthening areas like clearing would make it easy to lock out competitors or to keep prices for data too high, the people said.

The LSE declined to comment.

The Commission had narrowed its list of concerns in its charge sheet known as a statement of objections sent to LSE last month, one of the people said, suggesting that even worries about so-called “partial foreclosure” of data are not very strong.

Partial foreclosure refers to an ability of vertically integrated groups to hamper rival access to services or reduce the incentive to compete.

Concessions to address these vertical concerns are typically licensing access or “behavioural” remedies, they said, meaning the LSE is now likely to escape structural remedies beyond the sale of Borsa Italiana.

Refinitiv is 45% owned by Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters News.

A European Commission filing on Thursday said that the London exchange group has offered concessions.

The EU executive body, which oversees competition policy in the 27-nation bloc, will now have until Jan. 15 to make a decision. It had previously set a deadline of Dec. 16.

On Tuesday shareholders in the LSE voted in favour of selling Borsa Italiana to Euronext for 4.3 billion euros, contingent on Brussels approving the takeover of Refinitiv.

LSE CEO David Schwimmer said last month that the sale of Borsa will contribute significantly to addressing EU competition concerns.

The EU executive will now seek feedback from rivals and customers on the LSE’s proposed remedies as soon as Friday, before deciding whether to accept the offer or demand more.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels and Huw Jones in London; Editing by Jon Boyle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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