There is an information standards reason why such a merger, noted here and here, could be interesting. Reuters and Microsoft are two of the most aggressive exponents of XBRL. Reuters from an aggregation and reporting perspective, and Microsoft from tooling and integration. But Microsoft was also a leader adopting XBRL in its investor relations program and portal.
Given that XBRL is now being supported by some regulatory regimes, and is under consideration for mandate by others, a MS Bloomberg merger could be a very intriguing proposition in terms of linking information publishers and subscribers of financial data. The UK Financial Services Authority(lots of broken links there) too.
“In the U.S., the November 2001 report of the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP) – a joint undertaking of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – recommended that core financial systems should use XBRL to meet emerging interoperability requirements.”
It also claims “the Office of the e-Envoy, a cabinet level office in the UK government, already recommends XBRL for all new software applications that must acquire, share, or deliver financial information.”
Lots of firms looking at the standard – Bank of America, Dresdner, and Nasdaq Europe, according to e-comment stories from 2002.
XBRL should make financial reporting more transparent and comparison of corporate performance more effective, which could do more for business ethics than any number of ticklist compliance efforts.
It would be interesting to see Reuters and MS Bloomberg both competing on the basis of this common standard. Users will potentially be able to maintain relationships with multiple financial information providers and swap between them more easily, decoupling analysis from commodity reporting services. Data flows will be programmatic; allowing the information consumer to potentially drive their own aggregated “master data management”, rather than relying on the “authority” of a third party provider.