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Breton defends French govt. role in EADS affair

Breton defends French govt. role in EADS affair
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The EADS insider trading scandal continues to make waves, particularly in Paris where the former French finance and economy minister Thierry Breton was dragged before the Senate’s Finances commission on Friday.

The role of the French state in the affair is coming under increasing scrutiny: “I never gave the slightest advice or order to the state bank Caisse des depots to buy or sell shares. Never! The way Lagardere, or Daimler or anyone else, wanted to pull out of EADS was never brought to my notice, and in no way was endorsed by me” said an angry Breton.

The Caisse de Depots moved in to buy some of the shares media group Lagardere put up for sale in April 2006, and was left holding a huge paper loss when their value subsequently fell. The allegation is that it made the purchase under pressure.

France’s financial watchdog has noted massive volumes in EADS shares ahead of bad news that would knock a third off its share price, and finds this suspicious. Daimler, the only other large private investor, also tried to bail out. Both it and Lagardere deny any wrongdoing

The Caisse de depot was set up in 1816 to repair finances wrecked by Napoleon, and under former prime minister Dominique de Villepin was told to buy stakes in companies applying a policy of “economic patriotism”.

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