Alaska Air, CEO Cooperating In Hedge Fund Insider-Trading Probe

Nov 10 2010 | 11:05am ET

Alaska Air Group and CEO William Ayer are cooperating with the Securities and Exchange Commission in an investigation into whether Ayer passed insider information on to a hedge fund.

In a filing last week, the airline said it and Ayer were "cooperating voluntarily" with the SEC. The regulator believes that Ayer, who is also the chairman of Puget Energy, may have given confidential information about Puget's 2008 buyout to hedge fund Donald Smith & Co.

Both Donald Smith and Ayer deny any wrongdoing, and neither have been charged in the case.

Donald Smith doubled its stake in the Washington state utility just before the announcement of its buyout. Ayer served on the company's board at the time. Donald Smith said it boosted its stake "only after the stock collapsed to a valuation level that we considered attractive based on our in-depth research."

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