Airbus tumbles on report of US bribery probe

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • Airbus SE shares slumped following a French report that the US Department of Justice has officially started an investigation into the European planemaker in parallel with British and French bribery probes.

The stock dropped as much 9.6%, the most intraday in 2½ years, after Le Monde reported yesterday that Airbus was informed at the end of the summer about the move by US authorities. The newspaper also said, without saying where it obtained the information, that the airplane maker could face total fines of several billion dollars from the probes.

“Airbus is cooperating with the US authorities in close coordination” with investigators in the UK and France, the company said in a statement, adding that it has previously disclosed its “engagement” with the US to provide information related to the European probes.

Airbus said in February that US agencies had asked it for information to assess whether any of the misconduct alleged in the European probes could fall within US jurisdiction.

The Toulouse, France-based industrial giant has been dogged by a series of investigations concerning the use of middlemen in securing plane sales, with CEO Tom Enders announcing that he wouldn’t seek another term amid the continuing uncertainty.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office and France’s Parquet National Financier have been probing possible bribery in Airbus’ passenger jet business, while Airbus agreed to pay €81 million (RM387 million) to settle a German bribery investigation into fighter-jet sales dating to 2002.