Reuters is using retained agency Brunswick for the approach, rumoured to be worth around £8.77bn.
Reuters and Thomson have been in talks many times and both are said to be keen for the merger to go ahead. The merged company would be named Thomson-Reuters and be headed by Reuters chief executive Tom Glocer. Thomson’s 60-year-old chief executive, Richard Harrington, is set to retire.
Finsbury partner James Leviton is heading the Thomson account, while Brunswick partner Nick Claydon leads on the Reuters side.
Both sides may have to contest concerns of job cuts within the merged company. Savings of more than £200m have been suggested, the bulk of which could be from across-the-board job cutting.
Links between Brunswick and Reuters are well established, so should any deal go through the agency will feel well placed to retain a brief, despite the fact Thomson will own the majority of the firm.
Reuters director of corporate affairs Ed Williams used to be a director at Brunswick. The top US comms role is also held by a Brunswick stalwart: Frank de Maria, a director in Brunswick’s New York office, joined as senior VP of corporate comms for the US last year (PRWeek, 22 September 2006).
Last month, Reuters rearranged its internal comms as Williams took his current role from incumbent Simon Walker (PRWeek, 23 March).
Walker is now a full-time senior adviser to Tom Glocer and his chairman Niall Fitzgerald. The move means that Walker, who is on the Conservative Party’s ‘A list’ of priority candidates, can focus on his political career.
The talks come amid much deal-making in the media sector, possibly affecting changes at firms with a direct impact on the PR sector. Last week, News Corp made a £2.5bn bid for Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones. It was initially rebuffed by Dow Jones’s controlling investors.