Aeon Says Executive Questioned by Regulator on Stock Transaction

Aeon Co., the biggest retailer in Japan, said an executive is under investigation by the country’s financial watchdog over whether he made an “improper” stock transaction.

Hidehiro Hirabayashi, chief executive officer of Aeon’s drugstore and pharmacy business, is being probed by the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission and has offered to quit the company, the retailer said in a statement to Tokyo’s stock exchange yesterday.

Aeon, based in Chiba near Tokyo, became aware of the matter when the executive told the company about his involvement on Feb. 18, the same day Aeon started an internal hearing about the case, Satoshi Otsuka, an Aeon spokesman, said by phone yesterday, without disclosing further details.

Hirabayashi, who’s also an Aeon’s vice president, has been suspended from his executive post and the company will wait for the result of the SESC probe before deciding on his future with the company.

Keiji Koide, an official with the SESC, said the commission doesn’t comment on specific cases.

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