03 Oct 07. A lengthy probe by France’s stock market authority points to possible criminal activity in trading of shares in Airbus parent EADS, the regulator said Wednesday, findings that have been forwarded to prosecutors. Current EADS CEO Louis Gallois played down the findings, calling them preliminary. But if insider trading is confirmed at EADS, it would be another blow to the Franco-German consortium whose planemaker Airbus has been struggling in its fierce competition with U.S. rival Boeing Co. The Financial Markets Authority sent Paris prosecutors a note on its findings because “the law requires us to do this once the facts are likely to be qualified as criminal,” a spokeswoman for the regulator said. The spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of agency policy, would not elaborate on the contents of the report. Le Figaro daily reported that the regulator, known as the AMF, had told prosecutors of “massive” insider trading by shareholders and managers at both European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. NV and Airbus. The report said AMF investigators believed executives and board members were aware of profit-damaging problems with the A380 superjumbo and mid-range A350 when they sold shares or exercised stock options worth several million euros between November 2005 and March 2006. The problems and a profit warning were publicly announced in June 2006, sending the EADS stock price crashing 26 percent in one day. The AMF and Paris prosecutor Xaviere Simeoni are conducting separate inquiries into alleged wrongdoing by executives at Airbus and EADS. The AMF spokeswoman said their probe, launched in mid-2006, was still under way and would probably wrap up late this year or early next year. German prosecutors are also investigating suspected insider trading at EADS. Gallois, who was appointed to head Airbus after the suspected problems and who did not sell shares at the time, refused to comment on the contents of the AMF report, other than say that they were not final. In the note, Le Figaro reported, the AMF said it believes Arnaud Lagardere, then co-chairman of EADS; the EADS joint CEOs at the time, Thomas Enders and Noel Forgeard; some members of EADS’ executive committee; and Airbus’ then-CEO Gustav Humbert knew about profit problems linked to the A380 and A350 before they were announced. The AMF noted the “concomitant and massive character” of the stock sales, according to the newspaper. (Source: AP)
03 Oct 07. EADS is most surprised by the publication of information in today’s press concerning the investigation currently conducted by the French stock market authority (AMF – Autorité des marchés financiers) on alleged insider trading on EADS shares. EADS considers that such leaks constitute an unlawful violation of the confidentiality of the current investigations and of the principle of the presumption of innocence. EADS will not comment further on the matter and reserves all its rights in the circumstances.
27 Sep 07. Terra Firma is among the potential bidders for Jaguar and Land Rover, it emerged Thursday. The buy-out group, headed by City financier Guy Hands, requested sale documents from Ford Motor and has done some due diligence on a possible bid for the US carmaker’s two UK brands, said people familiar with the matter. Terra Firma is seen as having its hands full following its acquisition of EMI, the music group, and it is uncertain whether it will bid. It declined to comment on the sale, details of which Ford and its advisers are trying to keep under close wraps. Alongside Terra Firma, Cerberus Capital Management, TPG, Ripplewood Holdings, Apollo Management and One Equity Partners have also looked at the two brands. Indian manufacturers Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra are also looking at possible bids. Indian media have published unconfirmed reports that the latter company, which produces tractors and sport utility vehicles, might decline to bid as it is interested primari