Source: AFP

PARIS — France’s stock market regulator has opened a probe into a prolonged unexplained sharp rise last month in the price of shares of the Euro Disney theme park operator, a source told AFP.

The Financial Markets Authority (AMF) declined to confirm that an investigation had been opened, as was first reported by Le Monde.

The AMF had put Euro Disney shares under watch on February 16 following significantly higher trading volumes, and the price more than doubled during a two-week period.

Euro Disney shares jumped 17 percent following the announcement of 2010 results on February 8 which also reported an increased number of visitors who were spending more at Disneyland Paris so far this year.

However they continued rising for reasons market participants could not explain, and in one session 13 percent of the company changed hands, compared with Wednesday when just 0.1 percent were traded.

Euro Disney also said at the time it had no explanation for the rise in its shares.

The Walt Disney Company owns the largest stake of 39.8 percent in Euro Disney. A holding company of Saudi Prince Al Waleed holds 10 percent, while the other 50.2 percent are in public trade.

The AMF regularly opens probes into the movement of share prices, which do not always result in sanctions or a more serious criminal probe.

Euro Disney’s shares had fallen 0.35 percent to 8.66 euros at 1545 GMT when the CAC-40 index was down 0.32 percent.