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France court orders trial in insider trading investigation

A French court on Monday ordered a trial for German car maker Daimler AG and French industrial conglomerate Lagardere SCA, shareholders in Airbus' parent European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EADS) [corporate websites], in an insider trading investigation dating back to 2006. EADS is a global pan-European aerospace and defense corporation and military contractor worldwide. Seven current or former EADS and Airbus executives have also been ordered to stand trial [AP report]. In a statement, EADS says it supported its managers, whom it said were cleared in 2009 [NYT report] by France's market regulator in a separate inquiry, which examined whether the executives had access to privileged information at meetings in February and March 2006 when the manufacturing process of the A380 program was discussed. The probe seeks to discover what the EADS executives and board members knew about problems with the A380 and A350 aircraft when they sold shares and stock options in 2006. Daimler confirmed that charges have been filed against the company, though Lagardere has not commented. Daimler and Lagardere, which recently both sold their remaining stakes in EADS, were the main founding shareholders when the company started in 2000.

In 2009 the Financial Markets Authority [official website] ruled [AP report] that 17 current and former executives of Airbus and EADS did not violate insider-trading laws when they sold company shares in 2006. The decision followed a two-and-a-half-year investigation into a series of 2006 board meetings. The investigation [International Business Times backgrounder] found that details about the A380's troubles at the time were detailed enough for a "reasonable investor" to anticipate a significant drop in the share price, and thus, no violation of insider-trading laws could be found. It the decision, EADS was found to have complied with its obligations to tell shareholders about delays in a timely manner, while Daimler and Lagardere were also cleared of any wrongdoing.

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