Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Standard & Poor’s settled a European Union antitrust probe after it agreed to abolish licensing fees that banks pay to use securities identification numbers.
S&P also promised to offer other users access to the data for an annual fee of $15,000, the European Commission said in an e-mailed statement today. S&P’s commitments are binding for a five-year period.
“This will improve the efficiency of European financial markets,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said. “The commitments offered by S&P will abolish licensing fees that banks had to pay for the mere use” of the numbers in Europe and “significantly reduce” costs for others.
S&P is the only provider of the U.S. securities identification numbers and EU regulators said they had concerns that the company “may have charged unfairly high prices” for their use. The 27-nation EU’s antitrust regulator opened the probe after the Brussels-based European Fund and Asset Management Association complained that the S&P fees were unfair.
CUSIP Global Services, a provider of securities identification data run by S&P, agreed to introduce a new data feed, the U.S. ISIN Basic Service, with “limited descriptive data for certain publicly traded U.S. securities,” said Michael Privitera, an S&P spokesman in New York.
S&P offered to settle the EU probe in May.
The European Commission today separately proposed tougher regulations to rein in credit-ratings companies that would empower investors to sue ratings companies in cases where they have lost money through gross negligence or serious misconduct.
--Editor: Peter Chapman, Anthony Aarons
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