Union Alliance Urges Scrutiny of Thomson-Reuters Deal

    WASHINGTON, May 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A transatlantic alliance
 of unions representing employees at Reuters Group Plc (Nasdaq:   RTRSY)
 (London: RTR) on Monday urged a powerful trust to closely scrutinize the
 company's proposed merger with Thomson Corp. (NYSE:   TOC; Toronto) to ensure
 that it does not compromise Reuters' independence and journalistic
 integrity.
     In letters to the directors of the Reuters Founders Share Company Ltd.,
 which is entrusted with protecting the company's "Trust Principles" and
 empowered to block a merger, leaders of the unions cited several concerns
 about the merger that the two companies disclosed they were discussing on
 May 8. [Letter follows this release.]
     "There are deep concerns, despite assurances we have already heard,
 over whether a reconstituted Reuters would maintain the high standards of
 journalism and the integrity, independence and freedom from bias that have
 shaped the company's 156-year-old reputation and are crucial to its future
 success," the letter said.
     Among the union leaders' concerns was a merger proposal to allow a
 Thomson family holding company to own a 53 percent stake of the newly
 merged company, even though Reuters limits shareholder stakes to 15 percent
 and a "Trust Principle" bars Reuters from being controlled by "any one
 interest, group or faction." The Thomson family now controls Thomson, a
 Canadian electronic information firm based in Stamford, Conn.
     The unions -- The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America,
 its New York and Canadian locals, the National Union of Journalists and
 Amicus-GPM -- represent journalists, technical workers and many other
 employees of the London-based news and information company in the United
 States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
     The Reuters Founders Share Company, chaired by Swedish industrialist
 Pehr Gyllenhammar, was established when Reuters became a publicly owned
 company in 1984 to protect the "Trust Principles" with its omnipotent
 "Founders Share" that can outvote all other shareholders and stop a
 takeover. The "Trust Principles," which date back to 1941, were created
 largely to maintain Reuters as a reputable, thriving, bias-free,
 independent global news organization.
     The companies announced on May 8 that they were in talks for Thomson to
 buy Reuters. The merged company would be called Thomson-Reuters, but it
 would be run by Reuters CEO Tom Glocer and its news and information
 division would be called Reuters. The deal cannot be completed without the
 approval of the Reuters Founders Share Co.
                                                      May 14, 2007
     Mr Pehr Gyllenhammar, Chairman
     The Reuters Founders Share Company Limited
     The Reuters Building
     South Colonnade
     Canary Wharf
     London E14 5EP
     United Kingdom
 
     Dear Mr Gyllenhammar:
     The news that Reuters is discussing a change of ownership for the first
 time since the Reuters Founders Share Company was established has left
 employees unsettled and concerned over their suddenly uncertain futures.
     As representatives of the journalists and many other employees whose
 work and dedication give Reuters its unique value, we are writing to relay
 these concerns to you as the guardian of the Reuters Trust Principles who
 will review the proposed merger.
     There are deep concerns, despite assurances we have already heard, over
 whether a reconstituted Reuters would maintain the high standards of
 journalism and the integrity, independence and freedom from bias that have
 shaped the company's 156-year-old reputation and are crucial to its future
 success.
     In particular we have the following questions about the Trust
 Principles:
     1) Reuters constitution requires that no person may hold 15 percent or
 more of Reuters shares. How then can the Thomson family hold a 53 percent
 stake?
     2) The first Trust principle says "that Reuters shall at no time pass
 into the hands of any one interest, group or faction." The use of the words
 "at no time" suggests this principle is inviolable and cannot be waived
 under any circumstances. If it is now to be breached for the Thomson
 family, why should anyone in the future pay attention to the remaining
 Trust Principles?
     3) If this takeover were to go ahead, what guarantees are there that
 the Thomson family would not in turn sell its 53 percent stake in Reuters
 to another group at a future date? We note that Thomson sold The Times and
 the Sunday Times to Rupert Murdoch.
     As employee representatives, we are bound to protect the rights and
 promote the interests of our members throughout this process. As you
 scrutinize this unprecedented merger for its verifiable commitment to
 preserving the Trust Principles and the Founders Share Company as their
 protector, we ask that you also remember the employees.
     From the largest business centres to the most far-flung bureaus, the
 journalists at Reuters who bring the world printed news, pictures, video
 images and Web content, and the many other employees whose work supports
 them, try to live up to the Trust Principles every day. Now, they are
 counting on you to keep the Trust Principles safe.
     Sincerely,
 
     Myra MacDonald, Joint Mother of the Chapel, Reuters
     National Union of Journalists
 
     Anthony Austin, Joint Father of the Chapel, Reuters
     National Union of Journalists
 
     Jeremy Dear, General Secretary
     National Union of Journalists
 
     Linda Foley, President
     The Newspaper Guild-CWA
 
     Alan Burn, Senior Representative
     Unite in Reuters (Amicus-GPM)
 
     Peter Szekely, Reuters Unit Chair
     The Newspaper Guild of New York
 
     Bill O'Meara, President-elect
     The Newspaper Guild of New York
 
     Kathy Viner, Staff Representative
     The Canadian Media Guild
 
     cc: Reuters Founders Share Company Directors
 
 

SOURCE Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America

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