French regulator considers fining Elliott arm $55 mln -reports

NEW YORK/PARIS, April 4 Fri Apr 4, 2014 4:31pm EDT

NEW YORK/PARIS, April 4 (Reuters) - France's AMF stock market regulator is considering whether to fine the UK arm of U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management 40 million euros ($55 million) over allegations of insider trading and market manipulation relating to French motorway operator APRR, newspapers reported on Friday.

An Elliott spokesman rejected the accusations, saying they were without merit and not supported by the evidence. He said the hedge fund had presented its case to the AMF enforcement committee earlier in the day.

Elliott Advisors UK would face a fine of 12.5 million euros, and Elliott Management Corp 27.5 million should the AMF's adjudicators agree to impose the penalties proposed by an internal committee, Les Echos reported, with a final decision expected in a few weeks.

The AMF accused the UK arm of Elliott of using privileged information to deal in APRR shares whilst negotiating to sell its stake in the company to APRR's majority shareholder Eiffarie, a joint venture between French construction company Eiffage and Macquarie Infrastructure Group, the FT reported.

The FT reported that Elliott bought shares in APRR at below its selling price in the run-up to the deal with Eiffarie. The FT cited the hearing in Paris on Friday attended by Gordon Singer, son of Elliott founder Paul Singer and head of its UK operation.

The spokesman for Elliott said in a statement emailed to Reuters: "Elliott's trading in APRR did not at any time make use of any material non-public information, was for a legitimate business purpose that was part of a longstanding trading strategy, and did not artificially inflate the price of APRR shares."

He added that none of the costs associated with the matter - including any potential penalties - would be borne by the Elliott funds.

The AMF was not immediately reachable for comment. ($1 = 0.7303 Euros) (Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Writing by James Regan; Editing by Anthony Barker)