Tuesday 15 October 2019

Chairman of Eir shareholder faces fine

Iliad’s Maxime Lombardini
Iliad’s Maxime Lombardini
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The chairman of Eir's French shareholder Iliad faces a €1m fine after regulators accused him of insider trading shortly before the firm made a surprise takeover bid for T-Mobile US back in 2014.

French authorities say Maxime Lombardini sold Iliad shares that he and his girlfriend owned just a few weeks before the $15bn bid for a majority stake in T-Mobile US. Benjamin Mauduit, an official at the Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) made the claim at a hearing yesterday.

He recommended the personal fine for Mr Lombardini and a €500,000 fine for the company.

In a statement, Iliad said it and Maxime Lombardini are formally contesting the case raised by AMF, which they said they consider to be unfounded.

The T-Mobile deal never happened, and Iliad went on to expand in Europe instead including buying into Eir last year.

Iliad is controlled by French billionaire Xavier Niel, who led the takeover of Eir that valued the Irish telecoms incumbent at €3.5bn. Under the deal Mr Niel's personal investment vehicle NJJ owns 32.9pc of Eir and Iliad - which he owns 52pc of - has a 31.6pc stake.

The Lombardini case is part of an AMF probe focusing on how news of the T-Mobile bid came to be leaked. It has honed in on a Eurostar train journey from London to Paris when a banker working at UBS caught a few glimpses of messages on the phone of his neighbour, a dealmaker at rival bank Lazard

Mr Lombardini was Iliad's CEO at the time of the T-Mobile bid and when it bought into Eir, though it is understood that as chairman of a minority shareholder he now has no day-to-day involvement with the Irish business.

Irish Independent

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