All of the Airbus and EADS executives accused of insider trading during a long-running investigation have been cleared by the French stock exchange regulator Autorite des Marches Financiers.

Seventeen individuals, as well as EADS' corporate shareholders, had been under scrutiny in relation to share trading in March 2006, a few weeks ahead of revelations about delays to the Airbus A380 programme.

The AMF's rapporteur had submitted a report in July and recommended heavy fines against seven executives, including former Airbus chief Noel Forgeard and current sales head John Leahy, as well as EADS itself.

But in a statement the AMF's sanctions commission - on which a final ruling depended - says it "dismisses the charge" that the seven used insider knowledge to conduct share trading.

It says it has reached its conclusion after studying not only the rapporteur's findings but also written defence submissions and information gathered in five days of hearings held during 23-27 November.

The AMF states that difficulties in the A380 industrial process, discussed at two key meetings in February and March 2006, did not constitute privileged information.

It agrees that these problems were manageable, with only a few alterations in A380 delivery schedules, and that the delays were not on the same scale as those which led EADS to issue a profit warning three months later, causing its share price to drop by 26%.

In a statement EADS says it is "pleased" that the sanctions commission has dismissed all the charges and recognised that the company has complied with market information requirements regarding the A380 programme.

"EADS is confident that this point of view will also prevail in all other pending proceedings based on the same facts," it adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news