Hedge Fund, Alaska Air CEO In Insider-Trading Probe

Oct 8 2010 | 11:15am ET

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into whether the CEO of Alaska Air Group passed inside information on to hedge fund Donald Smith & Co.

According to Bloomberg News, the SEC believes William Ayer may have provided non-public information about Washington utility Puget Energy's 2008 buyout, and that Donald Smith may have used that information to double its stake before the announcement. Ayer, who is now Puget's chairman, served on its board at the time, when Donald Smith was Alaska Air's largest investor.

Both Ayer and the hedge fund deny any wrongdoing.

"We categorically state that at no time did we have any communication with Mr. William Ayer regarding Puget energy," Donald Smith said, saying it boosted its Puget stake "only after the stock collapsed to a valuation level that we considered attractive based on our in-depth research."

Ayer, in his own statement, said he "never provided any material non-public information about Puget Energy to Donald Smith & Co., or anyone else."


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