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Suspicious Trading Before Deals Falls to 14.9%, U.K. FCA Says

Unusual share price movements in the two days before takeovers announced in the U.K. fell for a third straight year in a sign that a crackdown on insider trading has been effective.

There were abnormal pre-announcement price movements before 14.9 percent of the 74 deal notices in the U.K. in the year that ended on March 31, 2013, Chris Hamilton, a spokesman for the Financial Conduct Authority said today. The figure is down from 19.8 percent reported last year. The rate was as high as 30.6 percent in 2009.

Factors other than insider trading, such as analyst or press speculation about an upcoming deal, or information leaks, could be the cause of the share price movements, the regulator has said. The FCA, formerly the Financial Services Authority, has made insider trading a focus of its enforcement division.

“We welcome the decline,” said Patrick Spens, the FCA’s head of market monitoring. “While it should be noted that this fall has taken place against a background of reduced M&A activity we are encouraged by the downwards trend of the last three years which has taken place against the backdrop of our increased focus on market abuse and market monitoring.”

The figures were published in the last annual report of the FCA’s predecessor, the FSA, which was abolished on March 31.

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