Thomson Financial Wires the World for International Business News

Article ImageInvestors never stray very far from their favorite source of financial news. Whether it comes in over the internet, their BlackBerries, or even old-fashioned newspapers, getting business information from Bangladesh to Boston before it becomes old news is a big business in its own right.

Thomson Financial recently decided to get (back) into the news game by launching a global financial wire service that will deliver up-to-the-minute business news from across the world. The U.S.-headquartered company has long provided in-depth market analysis and investment information resources, but it hopes its latest move will position it to compete more fully with rival news providers like Reuters and Bloomberg. But Thomson isn’t sticking to competitors’ strategies, and it hopes to fulfill what it sees as a financial news need unmet by current options.

“We are not trying to replicate a broad, general offering,” says Sally Cates, managing director of Thomson Financial’s strategic communications. “Thomson Financial News is consistent with Thomson Financial’s strategy of producing news that is tailored to key sectors of the financial community: sector-specific commentary, insight, and analysis.”

Thomson’s bid for daily news delivery isn’t unprecedented—in addition to information reference, the company has owned all or part of a number of U.S., U.K., and Canadian newspapers and magazines since its 1934 inception. While Thomson sold off a majority of those news ownerships in the 1990s, it has recently renewed its interest in delivering daily financial content, especially as business and investment continue to globalize.

In February 2005, Thomson introduced a hybrid newswire in North America that packaged access to Thomson’s proprietary content with real-time business information, including ongoing market summaries, international news, and legal and government actions with financial impact. To digest the daily stream of information, Thomson opened bureaus across the country, hired a string of business reporters and partnered with the Associated Press for general coverage. Thomson reports that the Financial News experiment has been a success on this continent thus far, currently coming to over 20,000 subscribers’ desktops every day.

However, the increasingly global nature of business is pushing Thomson to enhance its international coverage. It acquired independent European financial news agency AFX News from Agence France-Presse for $20 million in June 2006 and quickly set out to expand cross-continent coverage. In March 2007, Thomson Financial News announced that it would include a rebranded AFX in its launch of European and Asian news operations.

Now that it’s running wires across the world, Thomson Financial’s investment in daily news has grown exponentially. New bureaus are springing up in international financial capitals like Lisbon, Warsaw, Budapest, and Vienna, and, in the last year, Thomson has increased its editorial and reporting staff to 500, almost double what it was a year ago.

When the new service comes online this July, Thomson Financial plans to send out 10,000 stories daily (as compared to rival Bloomberg’s 5,000)—mostly standard financial updates including earnings reports, corporate news, and market happenings. However, only a third of those stories will come from Thomson’s news staff. A third will come from local media outlets and another third will be “written” by automated news-generating software. The technology, which is already being tested by some business news reporting services, is designed to produce short, routine reports. Rather than replace live journalists, Thomson said the software is designed to free up valuable manpower for in-depth reporting.

The global news feed will be available to subscribers of Thomson ONE, a direct-to-desktop content subscription service for investment professionals. Thomson hopes its news offerings will make it more competitive with rival financial information providers, such as Reuters and Bloomberg, who focus on producing content that can be picked up by daily newspapers and websites.

“We are filling a key gap by developing the targeted news offering, and our clients have made it clear that they want and need a financial news offering,” says Cates. “News can be a competitive differentiator for our clients, if it is relevant and integrated alongside the content in our solutions.”

Instead of writing for the general population, Thomson plans to gear its news entirely towards investment professionals. Rather than have its subscribers veer into the open web for breaking news and stock reports—and possibly onto competitors’ sites—Thomson hopes to have customers rely on its portal for all of their financial information needs.