MODERNA CEO STEPHANE BANCEL HAS SOLD MORE THAN $400 MILLION OF COMPANY STOCK DURING THE PANDEMIC
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel has sold $408 million in company stock since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic — averaging roughly $3.6 million a week — as the company’s stock soared on the development and rollout of its Covid vaccine, according to CNBC’s analysis of the company’s securities filings. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, biotech company and its French CEO weren’t widely known outside biotech circles before the pandemic. However, they both became breakthrough success stories as Moderna rapidly developed its two-dose Covid vaccine in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health and with taxpayer backing trough Operation Warp Speed.
Moderna’s shots are now the second-most commonly used Covid vaccine in the U.S. after Pfizer, with more than 209 million doses administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Courtney Yu, director of research at Equilar, said the value of Bancel’s sales speak to how well the company’s stock has performed on the success of its vaccine. Equilar, which provides data on executive compensation, independently verified the value of Bancel’s sales.
Moderna’s stock has soared 614% since first announcing on Jan. 23, 2020, that it received funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The FDA granted emergency authorization for Moderna’s vaccine in December 2020.
Moderna’s Covid vaccine remains the biotech company’s only commercially available product. The shots have made Bancel a billionaire with an estimated net worth of more than $5.3 billion in company equity alone — based on his reported holdings as of March 1 and Wednesday’s closing price — and created a windfall for investors. The 12-year-old company, which went public in December 2018, booked its first profit last year — $12.2 billion — on $17.7 billion in Covid vaccine sales. It’s projecting a minimum of $19 billion in sales of its signature shots this year.
The $408 million Bancel has cashed out since January 2020 was done through so-called 10b5-1 stock plans adopted in 2018 before the pandemic. These plans allow executives to sell a predetermined number of shares, executed by a broker, at regular intervals to avoid the possibility of insider trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the 10b5-1 rule more than 20 years ago to give executives a way to cash in some of their shares without facing allegations of insider trading and potential legal action.
Moderna’s executives are required to trade under 10b5-1 plans, in which shares are sold during an open trading window under the company’s insider trading policy, according to Moderna’s 2022 proxy report.
“It’s meant to be sort of a safe harbor against being sued,” said David Larcker, a professor of accounting at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, who has researched 10b5-1 plans.
Altogether, Bancel has sold more than 2.8 million shares since late January 2020 under the trading plans adopted before the pandemic. From Moderna’s IPO until the announcement of CEPI funding for the vaccine, he sold approximately $3.2 million in shares.
January 13, 2023