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Bouygues Loses Defamation Suit Over ‘French Pentagon’ Report

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Bouygues SA, France’s second-largest builder, lost a defamation suit against a French weekly for writing that the company’s contract to build a new headquarters for the Defense Ministry was under investigation.

A Paris court found that while five of the seven passages from the report were defamatory, Canard Enchaine’s director Michel Gaillard had acted “in good faith” in running the story.

Bouygues denied the satirical news weekly’s report that French police are investigating allegations of corruption and favoritism in awarding the Paris-based builder the contract. A Bouygues-led group won the contract in May to build a “French Pentagon,” a 3.5 billion-euro ($4.6 billion) project to bring Defense Ministry civil servants and the armed forces together in one building by 2016 in southern Paris.

Bouygues welcomes the court’s acknowledgement of the defamatory nature of most of the report and that the paper didn’t show proof an investigation against the company has been opened, said a Bouygues spokesman who couldn’t be cited by name in line with company policy.

Bouygues’s share of the contract is valued at 1.2 billion euros, including 534 million euros of maintenance contracts over the 27-year period, the company said in May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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