Airbus CEO Questioned by French Police in EADS Probe

Airbus SAS (EAD) Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders was questioned by French police as part of a criminal probe into insider trading at European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Co., the planemaker’s parent company.

Enders, 50, was questioned on May 20 as a witness and wasn’t charged, Stefan Schaffrath, a spokesman for Toulouse, France-based Airbus, said today by telephone.

The French investigation is focused on executives who sold EADS stock options between late 2005 and June 2006, when the announcement of a delay to the A380 superjumbo model caused a record drop in the shares. Enders served as co-chief executive of EADS from 2005 before taking over at Airbus in August 2007.

The police probe centers on what managers knew of problems Airbus was experiencing with the A380 and parallels a civil inquiry led by French market regulator Autorite des Marches Financiers. The AMF last year referred 17 current and former EADS executives and shareholders Lagardere SCA and Daimler AG to its sanctions committee for punishment for insider trading.

Enders, a German citizen, is the second serving senior executive known to have been questioned. Andreas Sperl, head of EADS’s freighter-conversion unit, was examined last July about activities during his former role as Airbus’s chief financial officer, and arraigned on preliminary charges.

Charles Champion, the former manager of the A380 program, was also questioned and released without charges last October.

Witness Status

Enders was interviewed as a witness under French law, according to Airbus’s Schaffrath, a status that conveys no right to detain someone.

Some executives were previously interrogated under powers that allowed police to hold them for up to 48 hours before bringing them before Judges Xaviere Simeoni and Cecile Pendaries, who are leading the criminal investigation. In the French system, judges build a case and file preliminary charges before sending a report to prosecutors for a final decision on whether the matter should go to trial.

Four former executives have been charged with insider trading: Noel Forgeard, a former co-CEO at EADS, Gustav Humbert, the former Airbus CEO, Jean-Paul Gut, former chief operating officer at EADS, and Olivier Andries, an executive vice president at Airbus and then EADS.

EADS closed down 0.6 percent at 11.62 euros in Paris trading. The stock has declined 3.5 percent this year, valuing the company at 9.46 billion euros ($13.2 billion).

To contact the reporters on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net; Andrea Rothman in Toulouse at aerothman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net; Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.