How Moderna executives are cashing in on COVID-19 vaccine stock speculation

first_imgBiotech firm Moderna Inc could reap tens of billions of dollars in sales and stock appreciation if it wins the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. If it loses, the early-stage company’s value could crash.In the meantime, the firm’s chief executive is pocketing millions of dollars every month by selling shares that have tripled in price on news of Moderna’s development progress, a Reuters analysis of corporate filings shows. The sales – by CEO Stéphane Bancel, his childrens’ trust and companies he owns – amount to about US$21 million between Jan. 1 and June 26, including $6 million in May.The company’s chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, has cashed out the majority of his available stock and options, netting over $35 million since January, the filings show. “This may be their one shot at making a boatload of money if the vaccine doesn’t work out,” Fried said. Executives have wide discretion in releasing information, he said, and Moderna’s chiefs have a powerful motivation to “keep the stock price up.”Reuters found no evidence that Bancel, Zaks or Moderna has exaggerated the company’s vaccine progress.Many news outlets have reported sales by Moderna executives in the wake of positive news on its vaccine efforts. Reuters is the first to report that Bancel and affiliated entities are selling 90,000 shares every month and that Zaks moved to sharply increase his sales in March, three days before Moderna released market-moving news.A Moderna spokesman said that Bancel is liquidating only a small portion of his holdings and that “substantially all of his family’s assets remain invested in Moderna.” This stakeholding reflected Bancel’s “long-term commitment” to the firm, the spokesman said.Bancel, his companies and his children’s trust own more than 24 million Moderna shares, making him the second largest stockholder, owning about 8 percent of the firm, down slightly from the beginning of the year.Zaks did not respond to requests for comment, and Moderna did not comment on his share sales.The high frequency, volume and profits of Bancel’s transactions – at about 90,000 shares monthly – are unique among the CEOs of 26 companies identified by Reuters as developing COVID-19 vaccines or treatments and that regularly publish information on executive trades of company shares.Twenty-one of the firms have seen their stock rise since the end of January, just before coronavirus spread globally, and ten of those, including Moderna, have seen share prices at least double. But just four of the CEOs of those firms, including Bancel, have sold company stock.Only one – Chad Robins of Adaptive Biotech – made substantial, regular sales under a 10b5-1 plan, like Moderna’s Bancel. Adaptive Biotech, however, has seen a far smaller recent stock-price increase – about 50 percent – than Moderna. During May and June, Robins sold about $12 million in stock after Adaptive’s stock price rose on news that it is researching antibody therapies and a coronavirus test that delivers faster results.Adaptive Biotech declined to comment and referred to a company filing that said Robins sold the stock to diversify his investments.Most of Bancel’s sales have been carried out through plans in place since December 2018, the filings show. The transactions started in November 2019, when a trust belonging to his children began selling 11,046 shares each week. This January, Bancel and two companies he controls started selling stock regularly. Since then, they have collectively sold about 90,000 Moderna shares each month.High risks, rewardsSuch scheduled sales are more common at early-stage biotech companies such as Moderna – which face intense risk-reward scenarios – than at more established and diversified drug firms, where executives frequently hold their equity until they leave the company.Executives’ ongoing sales are an effective hedge against the bigger downside risk faced by companies like Moderna. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the firm has more than 20 therapies and vaccines in development – but none near approval.Investors view the firm as a frontrunner in creating a COVID-19 vaccine, but it faces 17 serious competitors with candidates in clinical evaluations and 129 others in earlier development stages, according to the World Health Organization. Only a very small number of companies are expected to get vaccines to market, biotech executives and health experts say.If Moderna successfully launches its coronavirus vaccine and a dozen other of its most promising trial medicines, its stock price could rise to $279 based on the new revenues, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. That would yield Bancel a fortune of about $10 billion including currently unvested share options, the Reuters analysis shows.The firm’s stock has soared from $18 in late February – just before it announced it had shipped its vaccine candidate to the US government for trials – to close at $56.57 on July 2, down 5 percent, after a report that the start of its large vaccine trial would be delayed. That gives the company a market capitalization of nearly $23 billion. The stock hit a high of $80 in May.But Morgan Stanley also has a “bear case,” in which the company would be worth only as much as the cash on its balance sheet if all of its vaccine and drug candidates don’t make it to market.‘Science by press release’Bancel and Zaks have been bullish on Moderna’s prospects in public statements.Bancel calls the mRNA technology the company uses for all vaccine development the “software of life,” with potential to create “a new class of medicines.” He has also said Moderna’s process can create vaccines much faster and with a better chance of “technical success” – and, by implication, regulatory approval – than other firms.“We are not aware of anybody else who can do this at this scale, with this focus, at this speed,” he told investors on June 2. Earlier, in a May 7 earnings call, Bancel said he had “never been as excited and optimistic about the future of Moderna.”Many investors and analysts are optimistic as well but say it is difficult to evaluate Moderna’s prospects given the early stages of trials.The company drew criticism from scientists for releasing incomplete data from a trial being conducted by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).On May 18, Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate had produced protective antibodies in a small subset of healthy trial volunteers. The news pushed Moderna stock up 20 percent to its peak of $80.Some scientists suggested Moderna should have held off publishing until it had all test subjects’ results.“This was science by press release,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Without complete data, he said, “you’re left to read the tea leaves.”Dr. Anthony Fauci – the nation’s top infectious disease expert – shared the test results with US governors, Vice President Mike Pence said in a Twitter post the day of Moderna’s announcement. But Fauci – who is running the Moderna trial – later said he didn’t like the company’s early release of incomplete data, according to an interview published by the STAT health news service.A spokeswoman for Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did not comment beyond what Fauci said in the interview.Bancel told investors at a June conference that Moderna’s leadership worried the information had been seen by too many people, including at the NIH. He said the company made the partial findings public because it worried the data would get leaked – and it considered the incomplete results material information that all investors should receive at the same time.A company spokesman told Reuters the company believed it needed to release the information to comply with Securities and Exchange Commission rules.The day after the May 18 announcement, Zaks sold 125,000 shares – netting him nearly $10 million – at a price of $78, up from $66 on the Friday before the Monday press release. Company filings show the sale was executed in accordance with the plan that Zaks put in place on March 13.Topics : The lucrative liquidations highlight the unusually powerful incentives for biotech executives to highlight development milestones for drugs that often never get approved or sold, according to interviews with seven executive-compensation experts. Optimistic corporate statements on coronavirus vaccines, they said, could cause investors to overpay for company shares or create false hope among the public and health officials seeking new weapons to fight the pandemic.Bancel set a fixed schedule for his share sales – known as a 10b5-1 plan – long before the pandemic hit. Such executive share-sale plans are meant to guard against insider trading, avoiding the potential for executives to sell in advance of bad news they know is coming, or to put off selling until after a positive announcement.Zaks sharply increased the pace of his sales with a new plan he put in place on March 13. That was three days before Moderna announced it had dosed the first human with a vaccine candidate, news that sent its stock price up 24 percent and signaled that future development milestones might push the shares higher.The sales give the firm’s executives an unusual opportunity to lock in big profits on what could be fleeting market optimism, said Jesse Fried, a Harvard Law School professor who wrote a book about executive compensation.last_img read more

Disgraced Banten governor’s younger brother convicted of corruption

first_imgHowever, the judges did not find the defendant guilty of two money-laundering offenses he was facing. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had accused him of laundering about Rp 1.9 trillion, which he had allegedly obtained from illicit activities.The sentence Wawan received was lighter than the six years of prison sought by the prosecutors.Both Wawan’s lawyer and the prosecution told the court they would consider appealing the sentence.Read also: Atut dynasty’s member accused of embezzling Rp 1.7 trillion over 7 years in Banten The Jakarta Corruption Court has sentenced Tubagus “Wawan” Chaeri Wardana, the younger brother of former Banten governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah, to four years in prison for accepting bribes related to several state projects in the province.The court also fined Wawan Rp 200 million (US$13,679) and will collect Rp 58 billion in restitution.The defendant was found guilty of violating Article 3 and 18 of the 2001 Anticorruption Law, which prohibit individual acts of self-gain that cause state losses. KPK prosecutors indicted Wawan for accepting Rp 58 billion in bribes pertaining to health equipment procurement for hospitals in Banten and community health centers (Puskesmas) in Tangerang in the 2012 fiscal year. The bribes were found to have caused Rp 94.31 billion in state losses.Atut, who served as the governor of Banten from 2007 to 2014, allegedly received Rp 3.8 billion as a result of the illicit practices. The corruption court sentenced her to five years in prison in 2017 after she was previously sentenced to seven years behind bars for bribing then-Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar to address an election dispute in Banten in 2013. KPK acting spokesperson Ali Fikri said that while he respected the verdict, he was confident about the prosecution’s case for Wawan’s alleged money laundering. “[Prosecutors] will study the judges’ considerations on the verdict for the next seven days before deciding to take any legal steps,” Ali said in a statement on Friday.The Thursday conviction was the third for Wawan. In 2014, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement in bribery pertaining to a regional election dispute in Lebak regency. Two years later, the judges gave him an additional year of prison in a separate corruption case pertaining to health equipment procurement in Banten.He is also on trial for allegedly bribing Wahid Husen, the former head of Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, in exchange for luxurious facilities for graft convicts in the prison.Topics :last_img read more

Aviva Staff Pension Scheme completes largest ever longevity deal

first_imgThe longevity risk in ASPS has been transferred to three reinsurers: Swiss Re, Munich Re and SCOR Global Life.The effective date of the transaction is 1 January 2014.Daniel Harrison, global head of longevity solutions at Swiss Re, said: “There is a compelling rationale for pension plans and insurers to transfer their longevity risk to reinsurers.“We have a natural offset with our mortality business, the capacity to write the business onto our balance sheet, and the expertise to tailor the transaction to meet our client’s needs.”Denis Kessler, chairman and chief executive at SCOR, said: “This transaction is notable not only for its size but also as a demonstration of the partnership approach we adopt with our clients.“With such a complex transaction, it is vital to find a solution that works for the employer, the trustees and the reinsurer.”SCOR aims to double its longevity business over the course of a three-year business plan. The pension fund of UK-based insurer Aviva has completed the biggest-ever pension scheme longevity swap on a global basis, transferring liabilities of around £5bn (€6.1bn).The deal covers the longevity risk for 19,000 members of the Aviva Staff Pension Scheme (ASPS), their widows or widowers and civil partners.Previously, the largest longevity deal for any UK pension fund had been the £3.2bn deal for BAE Systems-2000 Plan, which was completed in February 2013, according to Aon Hewitt’s register of UK pension fund longevity swap deals.The next biggest deals were transacted for the UK pension funds of BMW and Rolls-Royce in February 2010 and November 2011, respectively, at £3bn each.last_img read more

Wasa, Van Oord JV Wins Kokkola Dredging Contract

first_imgImage source: WasaA joint venture (JV) consisting of Van Oord and Wasa Dredging has secured a contract for the Kokkola harbor and fairway dredging operations. On July 27, the JV signed an arrangement with Liikennevirasto – Finnish Transport Agency and the Port of Kokkola which covers two dredging contracts in the Kokkola area, Finland.Under the agreement, Wasa Dredging – a Finnish marine offshore and inland water construction company – will be responsible for dredging of the harder materials and heavily polluted soils, drilling and blasting of rock and removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO-risk) masses.Van Oord, a Dutch contracting company that specializes in dredging and land reclamation, will remove the softer soils and slightly polluted masses.The dredging projects are set to start during the fall of 2018 and will be finalized by the end of 2020.last_img read more

Dominica Red Cross Volunteering:The Sprit of Humanitarian Action

first_imgThis year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteer.  For the Red Cross Movement this is an opportunity to promote and recognize the role volunteers have played in enabling our Movement to become the largest humanitarian network in the world.Without the Movement’s 13 million active volunteers we would not be able to help the roughly 150 million persons who need assistance each year.  It is noteworthy, that in 2009, volunteers provided services with an estimated economic value of over six billion US dollars.  The social value that volunteers bring is incalculable, and even more far-reaching.Disasters will continue to happen. War and other situations of violence, natural and technological disasters, hunger, disease, and discrimination are the reality of our humanitarian landscape.One of the greatest resources we have in addressing these crises are our volunteers and as a Movement, our commitment is to work with governments and partners to better protect, promote and support the critical role played by volunteers.  In providing our services under the banner “Our World.Your Move” this reminds us all that we each have a role to play in making the world a better place.  This is the essence and spirit of volunteerism and each and every one of us can make a difference!  ‘FIND THE VOLUNTEER INSIDE U’Dominica Red Cross Share Sharing is caring! Share Tweetcenter_img LocalNews Dominica Red Cross Volunteering:The Sprit of Humanitarian Action by: – May 6, 2011 20 Views   no discussions Sharelast_img read more

Carpenter arrested for ‘illegal gambling’

first_imgThe suspect was detained in the lockupcell of the La Carlota City police station. The 50-year-old Mauricio Posecion ofBarangay Miranda, Pontevedra, Negros Occidental was tagged suspect, a policereport showed. Posecion was caught on the strength ofan arrest warrant on Nov. 25, the report added. Police officers served the warrantissued by Judge Cyclamen Jison Fernandez of the Regional Trial Court Branch63.      center_img Bacolod City – Charged with illegal gambling, a carpenter was nabbed inBarangay 1, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental.  A P60,000 bail bond was recommendedfor Posecion’s temporary liberty./PNlast_img read more

Zaha tells Crystal Palace boss Hodgson: We need to back our attack

first_img Loading… Wilfried Zaha has urged Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson to back his attackers after their win at Manchester United. Zaha scored twice against his old club and, with Andros Townsend making a flying start to the season and having signed Eberechi Eze from Queens Park Rangers, says the Eagles must be confident in their attacking ability. “I feel like we have so much quality in the team, we just need to put it on the pitch,” Zaha said.Advertisement Promoted ContentWho Is The Most Powerful Woman On Earth?20 “The Big Bang Theory” Moments Only A Few Fans Knew AboutBelieve It Or Not, Paul Rudd Is Turning 50 This YearThe Very Last Bitcoin Will Be Mined Around 2140. Read More10 Phones That Can Work For Weeks Without Recharging8 Scenes That Prove TV Has Gone Too Far7 Universities Where Getting An Education Costs A Hefty PennyThe Most Exciting Cities In The World To Visit6 Interesting Ways To Make Money With A DroneLaugh, Cry, Or Just Relax With The Best Series Streaming On HBOWho’s The Best Car Manufacturer Of All Time?5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parkscenter_img read also:Hodgson: Why I ordered Zaha to retake Ayew’s penalty against Man Utd “Before the game I was telling the team to believe in ourselves and don’t be scared to play your game. On Saturday we showed it and I am not surprised by the two games we’ve managed to win. “We wanted to impose ourselves on the game, we have so much pace and attacking threat in the team. We wanted to utilise it from the beginning. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 last_img read more

IMCA Spring Shootout starts new season at Fairmont Raceway

first_imgFAIRMONT, Minn. – Fairmont Raceway opens the 2017 season with five IMCA divisions filling the card for the Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8 Cellan Motorsports Spring Shootout.IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars and Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods all race for $1,000 to win, IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks for $700 to win and Mach-1 Sport Compacts for $300 to win on Friday.Saturday winner’s shares are $2,000 for Modifieds, $1,500 for Stock Cars and SportMods, $1,000 for Hobby Stocks and $500 for Sport Compacts.IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing National, regional and Allstar Performance State points will be given for both draw/redraw shows. Track points will also be awarded on Saturday.Entry fee each day is $50 for Modifieds, Stock Cars and SportMods and $30 for Hobby Stocks and Sport Compacts. Drivers must race on Friday to be eligible for Saturday’s increased payout; in the event opening night is rained out, the Friday purse will be paid on Saturday.Pit gates and the grandstand open at 5 p.m. both days. Hot laps are at 7 p.m. Spectator admission is $15 and pit passes are $35. Mulligan draw is $10.An open practice runs from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, April 6.More information is available by calling 712 209-0985 and on Facebook. The Spring Shootout will be broadcast by IMCA.TV.last_img read more

Atlético says 2 group members test positive for coronavirus

first_img Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditMADRID (AP) — Two members of Atlético Madrid’s group set to travel to Portugal for the Champions League quarterfinals have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Spanish club did not name those who tested positive and did not say if a player was involved. It said in a statement that the entire squad will be tested again before the team can travel. August 9, 2020 Associated Press Atlético is set to face Leipzig on Thursday in the last eight.___ More AP soccer and Atlético says 2 group members test positive for coronaviruslast_img read more

Jenn Gilligan shuts down Penn State in 3-2, triple-overtime victory

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 5, 2016 at 12:11 am Contact Jake: BUFFALO, N.Y. — Amy Petersen had already been stuffed on one breakaway and Jenn Gilligan was not going to let the Penn State junior forward convert on another opportunity. Gilligan prepared for a breakaway, glove-side shot, but Petersen faked the shot and tried to tuck the puck behind Gilligan.Like many of the shots Gilligan would face Friday night, she had an answer for it. Gilligan sprawled onto her stomach and kicked her left pad out, getting just enough of the puck to inch it away from the net.As the players tired and shifts shortened, that save in the third overtime proved to be the most important of the game. Syracuse eventually scored on a goal by Stephanie Grossi with 3:50 left in the third overtime to propel Syracuse (19-13-3,14-4-2 College Hockey America) to a 3-2 win over Penn State (12-19-6, 6-8-6) in the longest game in CHA tournament history. The Orange will face Mercyhurst at 3 p.m. in the CHA championship on Saturday.“It’s one of those things where you just react to it, it’s a little bit of a desperation save,” Gilligan said. “I felt it there at the side of the post, so I kinda just wrapped my other leg around the back of the net and hoped that the ref would blow the whistle.”Sometimes, Gilligan tapped her stick on both posts and appeared nervous. But she was able to keep her team in the first half, when Syracuse was sloppy and timid with the puck. And then she kept SU in all three overtime periods when the Orange was finally able to score.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGilligan did take responsibility for both Penn State goals, including a squeaker on the second that trickled under her arm. The goal flipped the game’s momentum. Less than three minutes earlier, Syracuse had a built a 2-0 lead on goals by defenders Megan Quinn and Allie Munroe. But her performance was key to Syracuse moving on.“I felt that she was fairly confident,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “In the first period she made three great saves. They had some grade-A chances. Hopefully that gets her better prepared and ready to go for tomorrow.”Gilligan, like Flanagan was also happy she could play a solid 60 minutes after having given up two goals. Nicole Renault, who played defense in front of Gilligan, felt SU didn’t helped Gilligan enough in the third period, when Penn State scored two goals in less than five minutes.“I just told her, ‘Stay in the game, you’re doing great,’” Renault said. “ I knew it wasn’t her fault whatsoever. It was a team breakdown. We weren’t thinking out there, we let them skate around us.”Renault knew the end of the season could be closing in and SU had to improve in front of Gilligan for the Orange to advance. The SU defender said she wanted to stay smart and not take any “stupid” chances.When the game finished, Gilligan, like the rest of the team, exploded down the ice and into the dog pile that surrounded Grossi. If not for her keeping PSU off the scoreboard in each overtime, the celebration would not have happened.“I think a lot of (the emotion) was relief,” Gilligan said. “I don’t necessarily know how my body would have held up with another overtime period.” Commentscenter_img Related Stories Syracuse advances to the CHA championship game with 3-2, triple-overtime win over Penn Statelast_img read more