Air Berlin’s chief executive, Joachim Hunold, is rejecting any suggestions of insider trading after federal financial police authorities raided the offices and homes of several senior staff at the carrier.

Air Berlin 
© LG Photo  
The carrier dismisses allegations of inappropriate trading

The extraordinary development follows allegations of insider trading from the public prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart relating to the acquisition of Air Berlin shares ahead of its disclosure of plans to acquire German budget carrier DBA.

Air Berlin publicly stated its intention to take over Munich-based DBA on 17 August last year. But the prosecutor’s office claims that six individuals are connected to a €1.5 million purchase of Air Berlin shares prior to the public disclosure.

Two board members of the carrier, including Hunold, are among the six. Three others are division managers at the airline, while details on the sixth have not been revealed.

Following yesterday’s police raids, during which documents were confiscated, Hunold has vehemently denied any impropriety.

“Whether and to what extend Air Berlin’s share price would increase following the publication of the DBA acquisition was more than unknown,” he says.

Air Berlin and DBA signed a confidentiality agreement on 26 May last year, ahead of Air Berlin’s examination of a potential purchase of DBA. But Hunold claims that a takeover, at that point, was considered “highly unlikely”.

Hunold purchased Air Berlin shares shortly afterwards, at the beginning of June 2006. But he insists that this followed the expiry of a previous regulatory lock-up period, and that he acquired the airline’s stock to “send a positive signal to the market”.

“This share purchase was properly notified to the [financial authorities] by Air Berlin and published on the Internet,” says Hunold.

“The [authorities] investigated the purchases in early autumn 2006 and raised no objections – and because I have not yet sold any shares, I have not realised any profit.”

Air Berlin signed a letter of intent regarding the DBA takeover in July 2006, about a month after the shares were purchased. Only at this point, says Hunold, did stock market disclosure rules come into effect.

While Air Berlin states that it is co-operating fully with the investigation, the carrier is dismissing any allegations of inappropriate trading.

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