ASIC pursues Hochtief AG over insider trading contravention

ASIC pursues Hochtief AG over insider trading contravention
ASIC pursues Hochtief AG over insider trading contravention

ASIC has started legal action in the Federal Court of Australia against German construction group holding company Hochtief Aktiengesellschaft (Hochtief AG), seeking a declaration of contravention and a financial penalty order against the company for insider trading.

ASIC’s action centres on the early 2014 on-market acquisition of ordinary shares of Leighton Holdings Limited (now called CIMIC Group Limited) (ASX code: LEI) by Hochtief AG's subsidiary, Hochtief Australia Holdings Limited (HAHL).

ASIC alleges that Hochtief AG contravened the insider trading provisions of the Corporations Act by procuring HAHL to acquire LEI when, on, 29 January 2014, it varied previous instructions to acquire a large parcel of LEI (by pushing out the last day to purchase the shares from 31 January 2014 to 14 February 2014) while it was in possession of insider information, being that Leighton Holdings Limited's 2013 financial results were likely to be at the high end of previous earnings guidance.

Hochtief AG has admitted the alleged contravention. 

The proceedings will be listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Court in Sydney on a date to be advised.


HAHL is ultimately owned and controlled by Hochtief AG which, in turn, has as its majority shareholder one of the world's leading construction companies, the Spanish company ACS Actividades de Construcción y Servicios S.A.

HAHL is operated by Hochtief AG as a vehicle to hold, acquire and dispose of securities and other financial products, including LEI, for Hochtief AG.

A Form 604 ‘Notice of Change of interests of substantial holder’ dated 5 February 2014 and filed with the ASX disclosed HAHL's relevant share acquisitions.

On 20 February 2014, Leighton reported its FY2013 Underlying NPAT was up 30% on FY12 to $584M, which was within guidance. The company also reported NPAT of $509M, which was up 13% on FY12.

On 19 February 2014, LEI closed at $16.41. On 20 February 2014, following the results announcement, LEI opened at $18.30 and traded as high as $18.40 and as low as $16.90 before closing at $17.21, or up 4.88% on the previous day’s close.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Asic Insider Trading


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