Ex-Vodafone boss Sir Christopher Gent fined £80,000 for leaking insider information

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Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market surveillance at the FCA, said: “Private disclosure of inside information, particularly by the chairman of a publicly traded issuer, jeopardizes investor confidence and the integrity of financial markets.

“Sir Christopher failed to properly focus his mind on what information he could properly release.

“Inside information is not a private article for those who have privileged access to it.

“The law requires that inside information be disclosed properly and not to major shareholders or others prior to announcements, as in this case.”

The FCA found that the information had been made public despite Convatec having a confidentiality and non-trading obligation agreement with one of its largest investors. The watchdog said the city administrator should have known not to share the information given his education and experience.

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Sir Christopher is one of the city’s most renowned figures, having held a series of powerful positions at leading companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

As Vodafone’s chief executive, he sealed one of the biggest adversarial deals in corporate history when the mobile titan made a $183 billion (£152 billion) takeover of German rival Mannesman in 2000.

The massive takeover later spiraled out of control when Vodafone was forced to pay a £28 billion goodwill fee, in one of the largest post-acquisition write-offs ever.

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The FCA focused on when Sir Christopher falsely disclosed the information to the investor, about two business days before the information was released.

Shares of Convatec fell by more than a third on the day it was announced in 2018 that CEO Paul Moraviec would be leaving and that growth forecasts would be lowered.

Sir Christopher said in a statement that he was encouraged to share the information because he believed he was acting in the best interests of the company.

He added: “I am very disappointed that the FCA has ruled against me in circumstances where I thought I had sought advice and encouragement to act as I did.

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“The decision recognizes the steps I took at the time to seek advice and did not question my belief that I was acting in the best interests of the company.”

Mr Stewart added: “We will continue to act rigorously against breaches when we see them to ensure this important principle remains at the center of the minds of issuers and their senior officials.”

A Convatec spokesperson said: “The FCA has not taken any action against the company. This is a personal matter for Sir Christopher Gent and it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.”

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