Eagan, Minn., appears the biggest employment beneficiary of the global merger one year ago of New York-based Thomson Corp. with London-based Reuters.

The combined publisher of financial markets, legal, accounting and health care information has weathered a stock-value decline and integration-related layoffs at the respective home offices.

But the Eagan headquarters for the Thomson Reuters global legal business is in the middle of adding about 300 people this year to what should be a 7,300-employee campus that supports growing businesses in North America, Europe, China, the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina and Australia.

The Eagan-based legal business, driven largely by overseas expansion, employed about 6,300 in 2005. The flagship product, Westlaw, is now used by lawyers and courts in 60 countries.

"We're very grateful," said Peter Warwick, chief executive of the Eagan-based legal business.

"Legal has 13,500 employees worldwide and more than 7,000 are in Eagan. Even with all of the economic difficulties, we are still in a position of being a growing business."

Operating profit in legal grew 9 percent to $1.1 billion as revenue grew 6 percent to $3.5 billion in 2008.

"There is incredible demand for information about Chinese commercial law in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe," said Warwick, a 10-year Thomson Reuters veteran who moved to Eagan in 2005.

Recent visitors to the former "West Publishing" campus, which a decade ago employed about 4,000, included lawyers and administrators from the "Supreme Peoples Court" in Beijing.

In the United States, we spend about 1.3 percent of our economic output on legal billings and about one in 300 of us are lawyers. China, one of the fastest-growing economies on Earth, spends 0.07 percent of economic output on legal billings and one in 8,500 is a Chinese lawyer.

However, law and lawyers is something the United States is good at exporting. And, since 2001 and Chinese admission to the World Trade Organization, the number of foreign law firms operating in China has doubled to about 180, driven by U.S. firms. China's legal system is modernizing rapidly to support its economic development. Thomson West products have been a big beneficiary. And that beats just buying TV sets from those guys with borrowed money.

Moreover, the Eagan campus last year added a $50 million addition to its already big plant. Eagan also serves globe-spanning tax and accounting, scientific and health care information businesses, as well as some Reuters-related businesses.

"We're the data center for a group of global businesses, the electronic nerve center, not only for legal, but tax and accounting, which is based in New York, and scientific, which is based in Philadelphia and Michigan," Warwick said. "We're very pleased on Day 1 of Year 2 of the merger."

The new hiring in Eagan offset the loss of about 70 support-staff and customer-service jobs last year to Thomson operations in India and the Philippines.

The stock of Thomson Reuters has fallen from $35.70 per share a year ago to $27.67 on Friday. It has held up much better than a lot of media and financial services firms, which have lost half or more of their value over the same period.

"TRI" stock prices are up 40 percent since they bottomed in November. With global markets starting to warm and early signs of an economic recovery, the consensus estimate among eight analysts who cover the company is a $50 share price within 12 months.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144 • nstanthony@startribune.com