S&P is the only issuer of the numbers -- used to identify securities -- in the United States and may be abusing this position, the European Union executive said in a statement on Thursday. It gave S&P eight weeks to respond to the charges.
'The Commission's preliminary conclusion is that S&P is abusing this monopoly position by enforcing the payment of license fees for the use of U.S. International Securities Identification Numbers,' the statement said.
The EU antitrust regulator set out its concerns in a so-called statement of objections, which followed a probe into S&P in January after complaints from several bodies representing investors, financial institutions and asset managers.
Officials said other organisations that issued similar numbers either charged no fees or billed just enough to cover their costs.
The numbers are indispensable for a range of operations that financial institutions carry out, such as reporting to authorities or clearing and settlement, and cannot be substituted by other identifiers, the Commission said.
The EU antitrust regulator last week opened an investigation into how news agency and publishing group Thomson Reuters codes its financial market data feeds, saying it might discourage customers from moving to rival companies.
Analysts have said the Commission's case against Thomson Reuters appeared to be weak as the codes are the company's own codification system and technically its intellectual property.
(Reporting by John O'Donnell and Foo Yun Chee, editing by Dale Hudson) Keywords: EU STANDARD&POORS/ (Contact John O'Donnell on +32 2 287 6817 or +32 473 92 48 90; email@example.com) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters.