FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The head of Deutsche Boerse (DB1Gn.DE) met with the German government to discuss a possible merger with London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) before he made a share purchase that sparked an insider trading investigation, according to excerpts of a document reviewed by Reuters.
CEO Carsten Kengeter purchased 4.5 million euros (4.01 million pounds) in Deutsche Boerse shares in mid-December of 2015, two months before the announcement of merger talks that resulted in a sharp rise in the share price. Kengeter has denied insider trading and said the purchase was part of an executive compensation program.
Linklaters, Deutsche Boerse’s external counsel, said in excerpts of a document that Kengeter met with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Nov. 3, 2015.
In the days before that meeting, Deutsche Boerse sent a paper to the finance ministry in an effort to “learn how politicians would view a possible transaction with LSE,” Linklaters said.
A spokesman for Deutsche Boerse declined to comment but quoted the summary of the Linklaters document: “In our opinion, insider information was not available on the date of the acquisition of the share purchase by Mr. Kengeter on Dec. 14, 2015, up until Jan. 19, 2016.”
A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry declined to comment. Linklaters didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The German magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported some of the details of the communication between Kengeter and the German finance ministry earlier on Friday.
Deutsche Boerse last month agreed to pay 10.5 million euros of fines to draw a line under allegations of insider trading, but the settlement is still pending approval in a Frankfurt court. As part of the agreement, Kengeter would pay an additional 500,000 euros personally.
Deutsche Boerse and Kengeter maintain their long-held position that the allegations of insider trading are unfounded.
Kengeter’s contract is set to expire at the end of March.
Reporting by Tom Sims; Additional reporting by Hans Seidenstuecker in Frankfurt and Tom Koerkemeier in Berlin; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle