France's AMF watchdog fines Bloomberg €5 million over Vinci hoax

PARIS (Reuters) - France's markets watchdog AMF said on Monday it had fined U.S. news agency Bloomberg News 5 million euros ($5.5 million) for publishing a hoax press release relating to construction group Vinci SGEF.PA in November 2016.

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AMF said in a statement Bloomberg should have known the information in the press release was false.

Bloomberg News, which competes with Thomson Reuters TRI.TO, said it intended to lodge an appeal.

“We regret that the AMF did not find and punish the perpetrator of the hoax, and chose instead to penalize a media outlet that was doing its very best to report on what appeared to be newsworthy information,” a spokesman for Bloomberg News said.

On Nov. 22, 2016, Vinci shares lost as much as 18% following the hoax statement that said the group would revise its 2015 and 2016 accounts and fire its chief financial officer.

The AMF said it had taken action against Bloomberg because it had published the hoax statement without verifying it.

Vinci shares recovered after the company denied the report and said the statement was a hoax.

After the hoax statement, Vinci filed a legal complaint to the AMF.

A fine against a media group is unusual for the AMF, which regulates participants and products on financial markets.

Its most recent fine was earlier this month, when it fined U.S. bank Morgan Stanley 20 million euros for manipulation of sovereign bonds, a decision Morgan Stanley said it would appeal.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Matthieu Protard and Mathieu Rosemain; editing by David Evans and Rosalba O’Brien