DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Alaska Air Group Inc.'s (ALK) Chairman and Chief Executive William Ayer said he never gave insider information on Puget Energy Inc. to anyone, while the airline's board gave him its vote of confidence.
Earlier Thursday, Bloomberg News reported the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating Ayer and New York hedge fund manager Donald Smith & Co. over some well-timed bets made on Puget shares.
In a statement from Alaska Air, Ayer said he "never provided any material non-public information about Puget Energy to Donald Smith & Co., or anyone else."
The company's lead independent director, Marc Langland, said the board has "full confidence" in Ayer and his "high ethical standards."
Ayer, who is a director of Puget Energy, was on the company's board during a $3.89 billion buyout in 2008, a deal that caused the company's share value to jump. According to the report, which cited two people familiar with the matter, the SEC is investigating whether the Donald Smith & Co. acted on inside information when it doubled its stake in Puget just before the deal was approved by Washington state officials.
Alaska Air shares were flat after hours, having closed Thursday down 4.6% at $46.50. The stock has risen 35% so far this year.
-By Joan E. Solsman, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2291; firstname.lastname@example.org