Villepin defends his role in EADS share price flap

30th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin insisted Tuesday he was unaware of problems at Airbus before their official disclosure in June 2006, a revelation that sparked a plunge in the share price of Airbus parent EADS as well as an insider trading probe.

30 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin insisted Tuesday he was unaware of problems at Airbus before their official disclosure in June 2006, a revelation that sparked a plunge in the share price of Airbus parent EADS as well as an insider trading probe.

"At no time was Matignon (the office of the prime minister) informed of difficulties at Airbus until they were made public by the company itself in June 2006," Villepin told the Senate finance committee.

He said his office had received no information from either the ministry of finance or the ministry of transport "on the situation on the production lines of the A380 and therefore on the reality of the industrial problems."

Parliamentary committees since early October have been looking into the sale of shares in EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, by the French media and defence company Lagardere in April 2006, about two months before production setbacks at the A380 super-jumbo program were disclosed on June 13.

The news sent the price of EADS shares tumbling more than 26 percent the following day. The French state has a 15 percent stake in EADS.

The newspaper Le Figaro reported in October that the French market regulator had been given a report by the public prosecutor alleging massive insider trading by shareholders and executives at EADS ahead of the share plunge.

Former French finance minister Thierry Breton has described the state's handling of its stake in EADS as "beyond reproach," while Arnaud Lagardere, Lagardere chief executive, has also denied having knowledge of the difficulties at Airbus before their official disclosure.

AFP

Subject: French news

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