November 12, 2017 / 3:58 PM / a year ago

Metro, Ceconomy CEOs in suspected market manipulation probe

FILE PHOTO: Shopping carts of Germany's biggest retailer Metro AG are lined up at a Metro cash and carry market near the city of Bonn. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - The chief executives of Germany’s Metro (B4B.DE) and Ceconomy (CECG.DE) are among those being investigated by prosecutors for suspected market manipulation in 2016 ahead of a split of the retail group into two, a company spokesman said on Sunday.

The investigation centres on the flow of information ahead of a Metro announcement on March 30, 2016, about plans to separate its wholesale and food business from its consumer electronics chain, sending its shares 12 percent higher.

The consumer electronics business is now listed on the stock exchange under the name Ceconomy (CECG.DE).

Prosecutors are investigating the committee at Metro that was responsible for planning the split at the time, which included Metro CEO Olaf Koch, current Ceconomy chief Pieter Haas and Ceconomy Finance Chief Mark Frese, the spokesman said.

The news was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine.

Metro and Ceconomy deny that market manipulation occurred.

Prosecutors have said they are investigating multiple officials at Metro for suspected market manipulation and insider trading. They have conducted a raid on Metro’s headquarters and are now evaluating the evidence.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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