Deutsche Börse’s supervisory board has backed the exchange’s chief executive Carsten Kengeter as German criminal authorities probe his share dealings ahead of a merger announcement with the London Stock Exchange Group.

In a statement on Tuesday, the supervisory board said it “unanimously expresses its full confidence” in Mr Kengeter. The board said it had reviewed its processes in 2015 internally and via external experts, and found that no merger negotiations with the LSE had taken place that year.

The Frankfurt public prosecutor last week said it was investigating potential insider trading by Mr Kengeter. The office confirmed it was looking at discussions that took place between July-August and the beginning of December 2015 between the leaders of Deutsche Börse and the LSE.

Mr Kengeter bought a total of 60,000 Deutsche Börse shares worth about €4.5m on December 14, as part of a long-term executive incentive scheme that was laid out in September 2015. He was required to participate by the board. He still holds the shares and is barred from divesting them until 2019. Formal talks between Deutsche Börse and the LSE began in January 2016, and when they were revealed publicly the following month, shares in both companies rose.

Also on Tuesday the LSE and Deutsche Börse confirmed they had submitted the sale of the LSE’s French clearing unit to antitrust authorities in Brussels as their main remedy to offset concerns their deal will curb clearing competition in Europe.

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