EU accuses S&P over pricing | Shanghai Daily

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November 20, 2009

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EU accuses S&P over pricing

European Union regulators have charged United States credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's with monopoly abuse, alleging that the company unfairly demands payment for securities information numbers in databases.

S&P, a division of New York-based information-services company McGraw-Hill Cos, is the only issuer of international securities identification numbers for US securities.

The European Commission says it believes S&P abuses its monopoly position as issuer by requiring payment from European financial groups and data service providers when they use the numbers in databases.

"This behavior amounts to unfair pricing," the EU said. It said the numbers were indispensable for a number of operations that financial institutions carry out -- for instance, reporting to authorities or clearing and settlement.

It said other issuers do not charge any fees or only charge for the costs of distributing the numbers, not how often they are used.

S&P has eight weeks to reply to the EU charges and can seek an oral hearing to defend its case before the EU executive takes a final decision that can lead to fines of up to 10 percent of yearly global turnover for each year the company broke the law.

Businesses can also settle antitrust cases by making a binding commitment to avoid behavior that could cause competition problems.

EU regulators said they started investigating the company in January.

They are also investigating possible monopoly abuse by financial information service Thomson Reuters for preventing customers from applying their own codes to financial market datafeeds.



 

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