Pfizer CEO Dr Albert Bourla sold shares worth US$5.6 million on Monday, the same day the pharmaceutical giant announced its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective.
The announcement by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, was a shock as Bourla already had stated: “So let me be clear, assuming positive data, Pfizer will apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the US soon after the safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November.”
On Monday, Bourla released that “positive data” and Pfizer shares soared to their highest value since 19 July, 2019 when they reached US$43 before closing at US$41.45
Bourla sold more than 130,000 shares on Monday as part of a scheduled plan to sell some of his shares in Pfizer, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Bloomberg reported. The shares were sold at US$41.94 each – close to the intra-day high of US$41.99 – resulting in Bourla pocketing about US$5.6 million from the sale.
Sally Susman, Pfizer’s Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, also sold shares worth about US$1.8 million, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Both disposals had already been arranged under a 10b5-1 trading plan that allows for scheduled sales at a predetermined time or price.
Bourla authorised his sale for a set price in August and Susman in November 2019, according to Bloomberg.
Executives of listed companies often receive a share of their total pay in shares, and many periodically sell part of their holdings. They can, however, delay sales to avoid appearing to capitalise on events that boost company shares.
Bourla told CNN he had learned of the trial’s positive results from a small sample of volunteers on Sunday, a day before the announcement was made public.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” Bourla said in a statement.
“We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”
Pfizer shares rose almost 8% on the announcement as global markets rallied in the hope of normality returning. BioNTech shares soared almost 14%.
Our #COVID19 vaccine, if approved, will be an important part of global, national & state prevention plans, but not the only one. Everyone should continue to follow the guidance of the scientific community & local health authorities – and please remember to wear your masks.
— AlbertBourla (@AlbertBourla) November 10, 2020