U.S. regulators filed a lawsuit alleging insider trading in Global Industries Ltd. days before the U.S. company agreed to a $937 million takeover by Technip SA, Europe’s second-biggest oil services company.
The complaint by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that on Sept. 8 and 9 “unknown purchasers” bought 685,840 shares of Global Industries common stock through an account in the name of Raiffeisen Bank International AG Vienna, Austria, at $5.14 to $5.39 a share.
The defendants made a profit of $1.73 million by selling the shares on Sept. 12 after the deal was announced on that day for Technip to pay $8 a share, according to a copy of the lawsuit filed on Sept. 16 in federal court in New York and posted on the commission´s website. It said the account was at broker dealer Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Raiffeisen Bank said today in a statement that the stock purchases “were made through an omnibus account in the name of Raiffeisen Bank International” rather than by the bank itself. They were “placed by a counterparty” and “routed through the execution desk automatically without any indication of being unusual.”
Technip spokeswoman Floriane Lassalle-Massip declined to comment on the case.
The court issued a temporary restraining order freezing the assets related to the trading, according to the SEC statement on the case. The purchasers of the shares have to identify themselves and are prohibited from destroying documents.
Technip has said the agreement to buy Global Industries will add 14 vessels, bringing its fleet to 34, and will expand its market by around 30 percent in deep-to-shore subsea infrastructure. The French company makes equipment for oil and gas exploration and builds liquefied natural gas installations. Its biggest competitor in Europe is Italy’s Saipem SpA.