Former analyst fined over instant message

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The Independent Online

A former City analyst was yesterday hit with a £50,000 fine for passing misleading information about Enterprise Inns to clients via Bloomberg's "Instant Messenger" system.

The Financial Services Authority said Christopher Gower, a former senior research analyst employed by MF Global Securities attended a meeting with the chief executive officer of Punch Taverns on 7 May 2008 where they discussed rival Enterprise Inns turning itself into a Real Estate Investment Trust.

After the meeting, Mr Gower sent an instant message to 14 clients on MF Global, a Bloomberg reporter and MF Global equity salesmen. It said: "Hot off press. Just had meeting with ceo of Punch Taverns. They have heard from HM Revenue & Customs that it is highly likely Enterprise Inns has been granted Reit status and ETI are due to announce this on 13th May at interims. Expect ETI to bounce (was up 10 per cent on previous HMRC news) but then fall back as mkt realises it will take time to implement. More on my meeting to follow... Chris."

The FSA said it gave the impression he had inside information, even though he did not, sparking a flurry of trading in Enterprise shares. Analysts were warned to be "cautious".