Competition Heating Up With Corporate Filing Services

Ever since the creation of the Canadian online corporate filings system SEDAR in 1997, the race has been on to develop a commercially viable service to provide more sophisticated search capabilities than allowed by the free website.

First to bring itself forward to law firms was LIVEDGAR from Global Securities Information Inc. (GSI)., an independent company based in Washington, D.C. LIVEDGAR, a well-established commercial service developed for access to U.S. EDGAR filings, incorporates Canadian filings on its system. GSI has been working with Canadian firms to adapt its interface to the SEDAR filings. They boast hand-categorized filings for accuracy. Pricing has been flexible, with either transactional use of the service (“pay-as-you-go”) or flat rate subscriptions. See this description page for more about SEDAR filings on LIVEDGAR.

Next off the mark was Toronto-based consultanting company XP Innovations with its DisclosureNet service. DisclosureNet has an interface developed specifically for SEDAR filings, with automatic categorization of filings to reduce the risk of human error and for quicker loading of filings onto their system. Pricing is flat rate subscription only, but they have lately been giving generous trial subscriptions to allow potential subscribers to try it for themselves. Last year their sales techniques had representatives contacting several lawyers in the same a firm. This was seen as overly aggressive by library managers since we are largely meant to be the main point of contact for online research services in the firms. On the other hand, not much of XPI’s past efforts was put into areas such as advertising. The next area earmarked for development appears to be adding EDGAR filings onto the service.

Lately, both companies seem to be getting a second wind, with GSI trying to do a bit of damage control before XPI makes inroads, and XPI trying to leverage the few passwords it sold last year to increase use of their service by law firms.

In the midst of this recent lively atmosphere, GSI was acquired on Friday by Thomson Corporation. See the Press Release. GSI will become a subsidiary of Thomson West in the U.S. So far little fall-out has been seen from this change. The product is expected to continue as it is with little in the way of interface or service change for the next 18 months. An insider reports this will benefit the LIVEDGAR product by giving it more financial backing, and allow for more development. Services for transaction securities lawyers has always been the week point of Thomson; the addition of this filings service will help. Now the only thing really needed is an historical share trading price service.

As with most other areas of legal information, the landscape in the corporate/securities industry is shifting. It will be interesting to see who gains the advantage as changes takes place at GSI and as XPI makes a stronger push to move into the legal market.

See July 29 update.