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FRC, S&P Join on Content Licensing & Distribution

Standard & Poor's and Financial Research Corp.announced a content licensing and distribution agreement Thursday whereby FRC data will be available on S&P's MarketScope Advisor platform for financial advisers. Terms of the agreement, including financial considerations, were not disclosed. An S&P spokesman denied the deal is a precursor to an acquisition of FRC from its parent, private equity firm Mercatus Partners LLC.

"We are pleased to be expanding the distribution of our research from mainly assets managers to the wealth management space," said Bruce Fador, chief executive officer of FRC. "We intend to bring FRC's world-class research product more directly to individual financial advisers. By making our material available on Standard & Poor's MarketScope Advisor, we are taking a major step forward in achieving that goal."

FRC will work with S&P's editorial staff to provide what S&P characterizes as "current, actionable information to help advisers provide the best and broadest service to their clients."

William Okun, S&P's executive managing director for investment research, said his company's aim is to provide "the best functionality, powering the richest and most insightful information and analysis."

Financial Research Corp. founder and former CEO Neil Bathon, who is now running FUSE Research, said of the S&P deal, "Coming out with a product that goes in a different direction is a good move for them."

FRC has changed many hands in the past decade and a half. In 1996, Bathon sold FRC to Boston Institutional Group, parent company of Funds Distributor. BISYS then acquired FRC in 2003. Four years later, in June 2007, Citigroup acquired BISYS. In November 2008, Citi sold FRC to Mercatus for an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million and is rumored to still have a stake in the company.

Fador has only been CEO of FRC since June 2008. Previously, Luis Fleites ran the company for four years, from 2006 until earlier this year, when Mercatus placed two of its partners, Bob Hedges and Teresa Epperson, at the helm of FRC as interim co-chief executives.

Fleites continues to work at the firm as vice president and director of retirement markets.

- Lee Barney



Bloomberg at Midway Point

On Launchpad 2010


Bloomberg said Wednesday it is nearly halfway through the rollout of a new version of its Launchpad software that supplies advanced data sharing, personalized news and content suggestion features to users of its information services.

The 2010 version of Launchpad allows traders and investors to share complete screens of news, graphs, ticker data and statistics instantly with other users, said Eugene Sorenson, global business manager for the product at Bloomberg's headquarters in New York. In the past, the product, which is a partner application that adds graphical and communications features to the basic Bloomberg service, only allowed instant sharing of individual windows or panes of data on a user's screen.

Launchpad 2010 also keeps track of what each user reads and researches, in order to automatically provide customized news feeds, Sorenson said, in a demonstration.

And, when users are trying to create new charts and background screens for analyzing market conditions and possible investments, its search line has been adapted to display a drop down menu of statistical or news sources that might be relevant to include in the analysis.

For instance, if a trading desk chief who had no prior knowledge of how to judge the economic condition of Greece, all the person would have to do was add "Greece" to the list of "currencies" to track and the first line on the dropdown, in the demonstration shown, would be Greek credit default swaps.

The cost of Greek credit default swaps could then be plotted against the performance of the Euro and, perhaps, the FTSE 100 Index.

Trading in a particular stock is depicted in real-time, with each new tick graphically displayed. And price movements in lists of stocks are depicted with small, colored histograms, for at-a-glance discovery of the size of movement.

Heat maps, indicating movement in sectors and industries, can be resized instantly, as can any window, and drilled into to details on best and worst performing stocks. And any charts that a trader finds useful on an ongoing basis can be pulled together into rows of charts that can be used as an operating dashboard.

This version of the Launchpad provides a "tremendous ability to create your own environment," Sorenson said.

The business manager said that 70,000 Bloomberg subscribers have put the new application into use, out of 150,000 that used the previous version.

There are 287,500 total subscribers to the Bloomberg service. The remaining 137,500 do not use Launchpad, which is provided at no additional charge to subscribers.