Euro Disney shares face Bourse inquiry

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The Independent Online
PARIS - The Bourse watchdog yesterday opened a formal investigation into movements in Euro Disney shares amid suspicion of insider trading when the company's stock fell heavily as it published results two weeks ago, writes Julian Nundy.

Trading in the shares was suspended on 10 November when they fell by about 13 per cent just after Euro Disney announced it had lost Fr5.3bn (pounds 610m) in the first full year of operation of the Euro Disneyland theme park east of Paris.

The Commission des Operations de Bourse said yesterday it had completed a preliminary inquiry into trading in the shares and into the way the company gave financial information.

There was no official statement from Euro Disney, which is trying to put together a rescue package, but one Euro Disney official said: 'We shall co-operate fully with the COB. We are sure of our internal procedures.'

Euro Disney shares fell heavily again this week, dropping at one point on Wednesday to an all-time low of Fr27.2, only to rally later. They were trading at Fr30.85 yesterday. The company has asked Walt Disney of the US, which owns 49 per cent of Euro Disney stock, for support until it puts together a new financing package.

The COB move is further bad news for a company that is struggling after a hard first 18 months of operations in an environment that has seen some of its ambitions dashed by recession in Europe.

Phase two of Euro Disney - the building of film studios and a cinema theme park next to Euro Disneyland at Marne la Vallee - is on hold and no decision on its future is expected until current problems are sorted out.