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EADS Co-Chair Questioned in Alleged Insider Trading Probe: Reports

The French co-chairman of Airbus parent EADS, Arnaud Lagardere, was questioned for nine hours by stock market regulators as part of an inquiry into alleged insider trading, French media reported Wednesday.

The AMF regulatory agency is looking into changes in Franco-German European Aeronautic Defence & Space's stock price last spring, as are German regulators.

EADS executives sold millions of euros worth of shares in March 2006, three months before profit-damaging delays to the A380 superjumbo were announced, sending stock plunging. Investigators are trying to determine whether the executives knew about the A380's problems before selling.

Media mogul and leading French executive Lagardere was questioned by the AMF on Tuesday for nine hours, Les Echos business daily and Le Parisien reported. Lagardere's office did not immediately returned calls seeking comment on the hearing. The AMF refused to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Lagardere, whose company Lagardere holds 15% of EADS but intends to cut its stake to 7.5% by 2009 through forward sales said last spring that he had no idea about the A380 production problems and encouraged the AMF to investigate the stock sales.

Also Tuesday, EADS co-chief executives Louis Gallois and Thomas Enders were questioned by senators Roland Ries and Jean-Francois Le Grand as part of their own inquiry.

EADS and Airbus denied a report Tuesday in business daily La Tribune that Airbus Technical Director Alain Garcia told board members about problems with the A380 on March 7, 2006, the same day executives began selling shares.

EADS shares fell 1.16% to 22.97 euros ($31.03) in Paris trading Wednesday morning.

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