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SEC investigating Heinz takeover trading

Feb. 16, 2013 at 1:22 AM

NEW YORK, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating "highly suspicious" trading in the takeover of H.J. Heinz Co., an SEC official said.

The agency said Friday it was moving to freeze a Swiss bank account used for trading just before the announcement that investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company and 3G agreed to buy Heinz in a deal reported to be worth $28 billion, The Hill reported.

A court in Manhattan granted the request for the freeze.

"Irregular and highly suspicious options trading immediately in front of a merger or acquisition announcement is a serious red flag that traders may be improperly acting on confidential nonpublic information," Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Division of Enforcement's Market Abuse Unit, said in a statement.

Investigators say there had been little activity in the Swiss account for at least six months but options purchases were made that earned a $1.7 million profit shortly before the announcement of the acquisition.

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