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Lagardere Charged With Insider Trading in EADS Investigation

Lagardere SCA was charged by judges investigating allegations of insider trading in Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. shares ahead of news that the planemaker’s A380 program was experiencing delays.

France’s biggest publisher was charged yesterday after executives were questioned by Serge Tournaire and Xavier Blanc, judges leading the inquiry, Paris-based Lagardere said today in an e-mailed statement.

Lagardere “is totally confident in the fact that this process will end, as have others, in its exoneration,” the company said in the statement, referring to an investigation by France’s financial markets regulator into the share sales that cleared everyone involved.

Criminal investigators are also looking into allegations that as many as 17 current and former EADS officials engaged in insider trading ahead of the announcement about production problems that would delay the A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane. The report precipitated a 26 percent drop in the share price on June 14, 2006.

Lagardere and Daimler AG cut their stakes in April 2006, prompting the original regulatory probe. Prosecutors opened their inquiry after investors filed a complaint following the June 2006 announcement.

Daimler spokesman Marc Binder didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Current and former EADS officials including EADS unit Airbus SAS Chief Operating Officer John Leahy, Noel Forgeard, a former co-CEO at EADS, and Gustav Humbert, the former Airbus CEO, have also been charged. All have denied the claims.

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