Arista Networks former chairman agrees to pay nearly $1M to settle insider trading charges

The founder and former chairman of technology company Arista Networks has agreed to pay almost $1 million to settle insider trading charges.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that Andreas “Andy” Bechtolsheim misappropriated material nonpublic information related to the impending acquisition of Acacia Communications of Maynard, Massachusetts.

The SEC alleged that Bechtolsheim, who was Arista’s chair at the time, learned of Acacia’s potential acquisition on July 8, 2019, through his and Arista’s longstanding relationship with another technology company which was also considering buying Acacia and which consulted with Bechtolsheim concerning the potential takeover.

Immediately after learning this information, the SEC said that Bechtolsheim allegedly traded Acacia options in the accounts of a close relative and an associate. The next day, July 9, 2019, before the market opened, Acacia and Cisco announced that Cisco had agreed to acquire Acacia for $70 per share. That day, Acacia’s stock price increased by 35.1%. The SEC’s complaint states that Bechtolsheim’s trading generated combined illegal profits of $415,726 in the accounts of his relative and associate.

Cisco’s $4.5 billion purchase of Acacia ultimately closed nearly two years later in March 2021.

Bechtolsheim, without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint, settled the charges by agreeing to be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years and to pay a civil monetary penalty of $923,740.

The settlement is subject to court approval.

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