French newspaper Le Monde put out this story today.
In response Airbus responded with this: “It is a known fact that Airbus is the subject of a publicly-disclosed investigation and therefore is unable to comment in any form on the current proceedings.
Airbus wishes to remind that in 2016 the company disclosed a matter of concern to the authorities. Since then, Airbus has been cooperating closely with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the French Parquet National Financier (PNF) in their investigations.
Furthermore, in previous financial disclosures Airbus has reported that as part of its engagement with the US authorities, the latter have requested information relating to conduct forming part of the SFO/PNF investigation that could fall within US jurisdiction. Here, too, Airbus is cooperating with the US authorities in close coordination with the SFO and PNF.
The United States is of major importance to Airbus in terms of production facilities, employees and clients. We are committed to the country, to our customers and our employees there as we are in any other region where Airbus has a major industrial presence.
Compliance is at the heart of everything Airbus does today. Over the past years, Airbus has been putting in place an industry leading compliance capability, and is cooperating with the relevant authorities on current proceedings.”
Reflecting his own view on the news, Airbus tweeted a comment from CEO Tom Enders: “I’m not surprised to see some more sniping out of Paris. Some people over there just don’t get it. Otherwise nothing new, investigation ongoing.”
Vertical Research Partners put out his balanced view: “Today’s share price move has taken some €4bn off Airbus’ market cap, and continued a period of weakness in the stock which may be attributed to broader economic concerns, the calls for French wage increases, and the increased risk of a ‘hard Brexit in the UK’. It’s way too early to scientifically assess the possibility or scale of any DoJ fine, but in this ‘sell first, ask questions later’ equity market we can understand why investors have reacted negatively to the news. For good or for bad, Airbus has deep pockets (~€12bn of gross cash on the balance sheet), so it can deal with any penalties that it may be forced to pay. However, until we get clarity on the situation we can see that this issue could weigh on investor sentiment, and the stock price.”
Perhaps we should wait to see where this goes, the dust hasn’t settled. This investigation has been going on since 2016.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.