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Parker and Thomson: Still dancing

They've had their splits and spats over the years, but Jeff Parker and Canada's Thomson Corp. still can't seem to let go of each other.

They've had their splits and spats over the years, but Jeff Parker and Canada's Thomson Corp. still can't seem to let go of each other. Parker gained prominence as a financial data magnate after starting three companies -- Business Research Corp., First Call Corp. and Technical Data Corp. -- that he sold to Thomson in 1986. He soon rose to CEO of Thomson Financial, which has become a leading data and technology provider to Wall Street, but by 1991 he had tired of the corporate life and started a venture capital fund. "I had always wanted to start another operating company," Parker, 60, has said. Since 1997 he has been CEO of Corporate Communications Broadcast Network.

By late January, Parker and Thomson were back together: The company agreed to take over CCBN, which Parker and co-founder Robert Adler had built into a leading provider of Webcasting and other services for corporate investor relations departments. Thomson hasn't disclosed what it is paying for CCBN; it already owns a 10 percent stake, resulting from an early $5 million investment in the start-up. That made Thomson the biggest outside shareholder and the "buyer of choice," Parker told II last year. (He declined to comment pending completion of the sale, which could be as early as this month.) CCBN will bring 3,000 corporate customers and 15,000 investment community subscribers into Thomson's growing financial database business.

The partners have a piece of unfinished legal business, however. In July 2002 CCBN sued Thomson for allegedly using inside information about CCBN to develop a competing investor relations service. The case is still pending in U.S. District Court in Boston, but a Thomson spokeswoman tells II that the lawsuit will be dismissed when the CCBN deal is complete. No decisions have been made about the network's future leadership, but the spokeswoman says that "Jeff Parker and Rob Adler will remain available to ensure a smooth transition."