BFA: quango tangos in the shadows cast by the public-private big freaking Europlane?
EADS : Lagardère estime que Villepin était informé du rachat de titres par la Caisse des dépôts: Les Echos notes new developments in an insider-trading probe at EADS, the Airbus consortium.
The head of the Lagardère media and defense group says Villepin knew, despite his denials.
In France, the smart-bomb manufacturers also produce the news, I guess. Much as Gazprom does in Russia. I will have to follow up on that: I am arriving late to the story, so I am merely clipping to file at this point. So no wagering, please.
On October 4, Tim Hepher of the Mail & Guardian had noted the gathering momentum of the scandal in the French press: “Media scent scandal in EADS share probe.”
French newspapers mined the Watergate archive to describe the political ramifications of a share trading scandal enveloping Airbus parent Eads on Thursday, posing questions about “Who knew what, and when?”
Blanket coverage of suspicions of “massive” insider trading, which have been sent to prosecutors, focused on the risk of instability at Europe’s largest aerospace and defence group and the background role of French and German governments.
“Following suspicions of massive insider trading at Eads, the scandal is turning into an affair of state,” said tabloid Le Parisien under a bold front-page headline, The Affair.
Preliminary elements of what could develop into one of Europe’s largest insider trading investigations were sent to prosecutors by the French stock market regulator AMF in September and disclosed by Le Figaro newspaper on Wednesday.
Every scandal is a -gate these days. Larry Rohter told the Estado de S. Paulo in his swan-song interview that the Brazilian media should treat the so-called “big allowance” scandal as analogous to Watergate. (Which kind of rhymes with Rohtergate. I might find a way to use that at some point.)
Carl Bernstein came down to Brazil on a tour later on and challenged the analogy:
“They asked me here in Brazil why they could not manage to bring down the government, as happened in Watergate. I do not get involved in questions of other nations, but I answered that the press does not bring down governments. That is not its job.”
I agree with Bernstein. I mean, personally, I must disclose, I do have a (modest) stake in wanting things go well for Brazil, just because I am married to a Brazilian (as is Larry Rohter) and own a home and office suite here.
I also do have a kind of patriotic interest in seeing American companies able to do good, sustainable business here. Why not? We are smart people. We should be able to figure out how to give the Tupi what they want at a nice price.
On the other hand, if you come down here to call the play by play, you really should not be lacing on the cleats and throwing yourself (I mix a sports metaphor here) into the scrum. The locals are sensitive about this for good reasons — even as Larry Rohter tries to convince you they are paranoid.
My official policy is this: I root for the day when Brazilians have a good, solid menu of political choices among competing responsible adults. Remember when you used to be able to say to yourself: “Well, the other party won, but at least the guy is not completely insane. Not liable to precipitate the end of civilization as we know it. Our party will keep them honest.” Remember that? Did that time ever exist? I may be self-deluded on this point, but I kind of get that vibe from Bloomie back there in Gotham.
And I think you see hopeful signs in this direction down here.
Anyway, what has developed in the last couple of weeks in French airspace?
“In response to the Le Monde article of October 7 and 8, the CDC informs that it never asked for or received state authoriation for the purchase of EADS shares.” Some response: It is dateline the day before the article referred reportedly ran. Press release from the Caisse des Dépots.
Le scandale du délit d’initié massif commis chez l’avionneur européen pourrait éclabousser l’Etat français. Alors qu’une enquête commanditée par Bercy auto-absout le ministère des Finances, Arnaud Lagardère charge Dominique de Villepin, en poste à Matignon.
The massive insider trading scandal at the European aircraft shop could muddy the French state. Although an investigation headed by Bercy absolved the Minister of Finance, [big-time moneyman] Arnaud Lagarère is accusing Dominique de Villepin …
Les services du Premier ministre ont été informés à l’avance de l’intention du groupe Lagardère de vendre des actions EADS à la banque IXIS CIB en 2006 et de la possibilité qu’une partie de ces actions soit rachetée par la Caisse des dépôts, affirme Arnaud Lagardère dans une interview à paraître dans le Journal du Dimanche.
The prime minister’s services had been informed in advance of the Lagardère group’s intention to sell EADS shares to the IXIX CIB bank in 2006, and that some of the shares would return to the Caisse des dépots [CDC, a state-owned bank] through a buyback, claims Armand Lagardère in an interview set to run in the [Sunday Journal].
A la question: “le Premier ministre Dominique de Villepin était-il au courant de l’opération?”, le patron du groupe Lagardère répond : “oui, bien sûr”. Arnaud Lagardère confirme qu’une note a été transmise à Matignon début 2006 au sujet de la vente d’une partie des actions EADS détenues par Lagardère, en avril 2006. “Cette note était un descriptif de l’opération, que nous avons envoyée aux services du Premier ministre, parce qu’ils nous l’avaient demandé. Elle contenait une liste d’investisseurs susceptibles d’être intéressés à long terme, dont, parmi d’autres, la CDC”, explique M. Lagardère.
Asked whether prime minister Villepin was “informed of the transaction,” the head of the Lagardère group responded, “He sure was.” The industrialist says a note was dispatched to Matignon in early 2006 about the April 2006 sale of a portion of EADS shares he owned. “That note contained a description of the transaction, which we sent to aides of the prime minister, because he had asked us to. It contained a list of investors with a potential interest in the long term, among them, the CDC,” explains Lagardère.
Dominique de Villepin avait déclaré mercredi n’avoir “jamais été saisi” du rachat de titres EADS par la CDC.
Villepin had stated last week that he “was never apprised” of the EADS share purchase by the CDC.
One of those “plausible deniability” defenses?
Remember “in order to shield the president, we simply will not tell him about our drug-running friends in El Salvador?” Demoralizing, that: The guy you elected to run things has no idea what the hell is going on. While people you did not elect actually run things in ways you are not allowed to know about.
Here in Brazil, you had the last three Ministers of Health cleared by a congressional probe, and the federal police, of culpable knowledge about a massive looting of the public treasury involving bureaucrats, lobbyists, and congressional earmarks au go go in a program for rolling out brigades of (much-needed) new ambulances for Brazilian towns.
Which actually seemed pretty plausible — I read the report.
Sometimes it is the case that you need not even lie down with dogs in order to wake up with fleas. Fleas are nature’s superathletes: they can pole-vault over vast distances to where the action is.
Some state bureaucrats here seem to regard the elected government as a bunch of know-nothing bounders — Bush Rangers who bought their ambassadorships, that sort of thing (the local term of contempt is political loteamento) — and just go on doing what they always do. Which is whatever the hell they feel like doing.
The big political talking point — one shared by government and opposition forces, mind you — is “the return of the bona fide technocrat.”
Sardemberg at Anatel and Tuma Jr. at Justice are pointed to as examples: Politically Toucan, but apolitical in their jobs in the current government. Cynics scoff. But it is not an absurd proposition on the face of it.
The Brazilian foreign service, for example, portrays itself as a corps of professional diplomatic technicians with a proud tradition of impartial service to the constituted powers.
Prompting a bid to undermine the credibility of that public image with hysterical fits of screaming that “Lula has politicized Itamaraty!” Using the same “creeping Communist indoctrination” charge we saw recently from Globo about school textbooks: That a list of suggested reading for promotion candidates included apologists for Communism!
Quacking nonsense, it appears.
Frankly, it is embarrassing to watch the people we are sending out here to horse-trade with the Tupi going up against the likes of this impressive Amorim fellow. You can tell the guy is a career diplomat because he shows signs, from what he says and does, of being very good at being diplomatic.
And what do we put into the field? Moonies. We can do better than this, can we not? We’re Americans! We have the best universities in the world! The proud descendants of fur trappers and mule traders! We invented the poker face, for God’s sake! We produced Mark Twain! What the hell happened to us?
Arnaud Lagardère précise toutefois que l’achat d’actions EADS par la Caisse des dépôts n’a pas été organisé par Lagardère et l’Etat : “Thierry Breton l’a dit, l’Etat n’a rien à voir là-dedans. C’est une grande banque, IXIS CIB, qui en a été chargée”. “Concernant nos relations avec l’Etat, je voudrais que les choses soient claires. Dès janvier 2006, mes collaborateurs ont eu des réunions répétées et à haut niveau concernant l’opération avec les services du Premier ministre. Elles portaient sur le schéma envisagé, le calendrier, etc. Matignon a suivi l’opération depuis le début”, ajoute le patron du groupe de défense et de médias.
But Lagardère adds that the purchase of EADS shares by the CDC was not organized by his group and the government: “Breton said it, the State has no business mixing in. IXIS CIB is the one in charge of the deal.” “As to relationships with the state, I would like to clear things up. Starting in January 2006, my partners had repeated high-level meetings about the transaction with aides to the Prime Minister. They reported on the organization of the deal, the deal calendar, and so on. Matignon [the Prime Minister’s office] followed the deal from the very beginning,” said the owner of the media and defense group.
Ces révélations interviennent alors que le ministère des Finances vient de s’auto-absoudre dans cette affaire. Une enquête diligentée auprès de l’inspecteur des finances Bernard Schneiter, qui a duré une semaine, montre que Bercy et son locataire de l’époque Thierry Breton ne savaient pas que la Caisse des dépôts s’apprêtait à racheter les titres EADS cédés par Lagardère.
These revelations come at a time when the Ministry of Finance has cleared itself of wrongdoing in the case. A probe led by Inspector Schneiter, which lasted one week, shows that Bercy and his “[lieu]tenant” at the time, Breton, did not know that the CDC was eager to buy back the EADS shares offered by Lagardère.
Lagardère a vendu une partie de ses titres EADS juste avant la chute du cours provoquée par la révélation des difficultés de fabrication de l’avion A380. L’Autorité des marchés financiers soupçonne des actionnaires et des dirigeants du groupe européen de délit d’initiés pour avoir vendu des actions avant ces révélations.
Lagardère sold part of his EADS shares just before they plummeted due to [newsflow] about manufacturing problems with the A380. The [French SEC, the AVM,] suspects that shareholders and EADS executives traded on that information before it went public.
I need to study up more on contemporary trends in other people’s securities regulators.
There have been some interesting changes here in Brazil, at the CVM, for example.
Which, with a new president, is also reportedly looking hard at insider trading recently, monitoring the markets for suspicious trading patterns (you know, tipo those funky Hong Kong call options in advance of the News Corp.-Dow Jones shotgun wedding).