oundation and early development
In October 1851 Paul Julius Reuter, a German-born immigrant, opened an office in the City of London which transmitted stock market quotations between London and Paris via the new Calais-Dover cable. Two years earlier he had used pigeons to fly stock prices between ****** and Brussels, a service which operated for a year until the gap in the telegraph link was closed.
Reuters, as the agency soon became known, eventually extended its service to the whole British press as well as to other European countries. It also expanded the content to include general and economic news from all around the world. The reputation of its service was enhanced by a succession of reporting scoops. For example, in 1865 Reuters was first in Europe with news of President Lincoln’s assassination in the United States.
As overland telegraph and undersea cable facilities developed, the business expanded beyond Europe to include the Far East in 1872 and South America in 1874. In 1883 Reuters began to use a ‘column printer’ to transmit messages electrically to London newspapers and in 1923 pioneered the use of radio to transmit news internationally. In 1927 it introduced the teleprinter to distribute news to London newspapers.
In 1925 the Press Association, the UK press agency, took a majority holding in Reuters Ltd. and in 1939 the company moved its corporate headquarters to its present location at 85 Fleet Street, London.
During both World Wars, Reuters came under pressure from the British government to serve British interests. In 1941 Reuters deflected this pressure by restructuring itself as a private company. The new owners, the British national and provincial press, formed the Reuters Trust, with independent trustees. The Trust preserves Reuters independence and neutrality. The principles of the Trust were maintained and the power to enforce them was strengthened when Reuters became a public company in 1984. (See Reuters Independence and Trust Principles).
Reuters continued to modernise rapidly in the latter half of the 20th century. The introduction of a succession of computerised products for international traders transformed the business. The Stockmaster service (1964), which transmitted financial data internationally, quickly proved a success and began this transformation.
In 1973 a further innovative development was the launch of the Reuter Monitor which created an electronic marketplace for foreign exchange. This service expanded to carry news and prices covering securities, commodities and money and was further enhanced in 1981 with the launch of the Reuter Monitor Dealing Service.
Following a dramatic increase in profitability, Reuters was floated as a public company in 1984 on the London Stock Exchange and on NASDAQ in the US. On listing, the Company had a market capitalisation of some £700 million. Subsequently, Reuters made a series of acquisitions including Visnews (1985 - renamed Reuters Television), Instinet (1986), TIBCO (formerly Teknekron) and Quotron (both in 1994).
Reuters continued to grow rapidly, widening the range of its business products and expanding its global reporting network for media, financial and economic services. Recent key product launches include Equities 2000 (1987), Dealing 2000-2 (1992), Business Briefing (1994), Reuters Television for the financial markets (1994), 3000 Series (1996) and the Reuters 3000 Xtra service (1999).
In 1995, Reuters established its ‘Greenhouse Fund’ to take minority investments in a range of start-up technology companies, initially in the United States. In July 1999 TIBCO Software completed an IPO on NASDAQ; Reuters retains a substantial proportion of the shares. Reuters announced in early 2000 a range of major initiatives designed to accelerate its use of internet technologies, open new markets and migrate its core business to an internet-based model. In May 2001 Instinet completed an IPO on NASDAQ; Reuters retains the majority of the shares.
In October 2001 Reuters completed the largest acquisition in its history, buying most of the assets of Bridge Information Systems.
In March 2003, Reuters acquired Multex.com, Inc., a provider of global financial information.
Updated: May 2003