The deal looks like it’s going forward, with both the European Union and the U.S. Justice Department reviewing terms of the proposed merger. At some point, the Canadian Competition Bureau will also weigh in.
Here’s what we know about the timing: The European Commission set an Oct. 8 deadline to decide whether to clear the deal without conditions, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which monitors the media. The Reporter said media rivals are expected to raise formal objections to a quick clearance of the deal, and that would oblige the Commission ? the European Union’s antitrust authority ? to launch an in-depth, three-month inquiry into the proposed merger.
In the United States, the Justice Department is also reviewing this transaction, with an initial inquiry expected to last 30 days, followed by a second antitrust investigation if required. There is no formal timetable for this second phase; in 2005, the average for this kind of probe was 134 days. It’s unclear when the Justice Department started looking at this, so it’s tough to predict when it will conclude.
Unions working together
Since the deal was announced, Guild representatives from the U.S., the UK and Canada have been meeting by conference call to share information and ideas. We reached out to the unionized UK-based workers at Thomson and one of their members has joined us on the calls.
In June, representatives from The Newspaper Guild in the U.S, the union group Unite ? which represents non-editorial employees at Reuters in Britain ? and Britain’s National Union of Journalists met with Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, Executive Editor David Schlesinger and Mark Sandham, global head of Human Resources. (http://www.cmg.ca/newsresults.asp?ID=1038&SubjectID=90&BranchID=5)
Another meeting, to update us on integration is set for later this month with Schlesinger. U.S Guild reps will be conferenced in by telephone.
None of the unions have taken an official position on the deal. We emphasize this cannot merely be a cost savings exercise designed to eliminate jobs, and raised concerns around editorial integrity.
The British House of Commons is also worried about what the impact could be for Reuters staff. “The House (of Commons) ? is concerned with the lack of transparency over the implications for staff resulting from the proposed merger in light of recent cutbacks and sub-inflationary wage rises for staff,” the members of Britain’s Parliament said in a parliamentary motion. They said the transaction should be “subject to the most rigorous scrutiny by all parties involved, including negotiation with the unions representing affected staff.”
As we learn more, we’ll pass it along in the hope you find it useful. We understand that despite regular “all staff” calls, Reuters management has provided little specific information to employees.