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Banks

French financial watchdog says Elliott 'obstructed' investigation that led to 20 million euro fine

PARIS (Reuters) - France's financial regulator fined Elliott Management 20 million euros ($22 million) after the U.S. activist filed inaccurate and late reports in connection with a 2015 tender offer for shares in Norbert Dentressangle by XPO Logistics XPO.N.

In a statement, the AMF also said Elliott had also “obstructed” its investigation related to the $3.56 billion acquisition of the French logistics firm by U.S.-based XPO.

France has a long history of sparring with activist hedge funds like Elliott, which was founded by Paul Singer in 1977.

The country’s finance minister said in April last year that the government was preparing measures to prevent activists destabilising French companies, while state-owned bank Bpifrance said a month earlier it had earmarked almost 2 billion euros to fend off such attacks.

The AMF said Elliott had filed inaccurate reports on the financial instruments they were using as part of its investment into Norbert Dentressangle and had not accurately reported to the regulator whether it planned to participate in the tender.

The regulator added that Elliott had obstructed the investigation by providing incomplete and late information when requested.

It said that in determining the size of the fine, one of its largest, it also took into account an earlier 8 million pounds fine handed out to Elliott Advisors UK Limited in 2014 in an insider trading case.

A source close to Elliott told Reuters the firm was reviewing the decision, seeking to understand its reasoning and will review options with its lawyers.

The AMF statement noted an appeal may be lodged against the decision.

Reporting by Maiya Keidan, Abhinav Ramnarayan, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Huw Jones and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Louise Heavens and Elaine Hardcastle

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