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Opinion

Bloomberg data wars: Into darkness

Bloomberg brought a knife to a gunfight when it tried to pry information out of Goldman Sachs by using details gathered from the data and media firm’s terminals about the bank’s employees. An enquiry by a Bloomberg reporter about whether a partner had left Goldman, given that his terminal was not in regular use, set alarms bells ringing at a bank that has a well-deserved reputation for paranoia.

Goldman has an equally well-deserved reputation for swift action and aggression, and by taking public its beef over the accessing of terminal user data, the bank dealt a serious blow to Bloomberg’s ambitions to extend the areas in which it competes with its customer base.

A scandal about whether Bloomberg gave the reporters in its news division improper access to terminal user data will not necessarily derail the firm’s attempts to develop a swap execution facility or broaden its trading platforms.

But Goldman put Bloomberg on the back foot with its aggressive response to the potential misuse of user data and emboldened other banks to act on their long-cherished desire to pull the data firm down a peg or two.

Goldman might have wished to slow Bloomberg’s diversification into areas that were traditionally the preserve of investment banks, such as profiting from derivatives trading. Introducing some hesitancy into Bloomberg’s aggressive pursuit of news stories would be an added bonus for Goldman, and one that fits the bank’s preference to squeeze multiple opportunities for gain from any given situation.

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