On Feb. 11, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel sold 10,000 shares of company stock, valued at $1.8 million in total. By the following day, Bancel’s Twitter account, had disappeared without warning.
Observers on Twitter found the relationship between these moves suspicious. In reality, the sale was part of Bancel’s previously-made plans to sell stock over time. Bancel last modified these stock-sale plans in May 2021. The sale is a tiny part of his holdings. At this rate it would take Bancel 16 years to sell all of his shares.
The SEC filing reporting the sale notes that the transactions were made in accordance with Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. That regulation allows company insiders to sell shares at predetermined times. They are a very common way for executives to avoid appearances and accusations of illegal insider trading. This sale was part of Bancel’s 10b5-1 plans that date back to December 2018 and were modified in September 2019 and May 2020.
Stephane Bancel’s Moderna holdings have dropped by billions in recent months
Bancel has been steadily selling off shares of Moderna stock since late 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic arrived and before the company’s announcement that it was developing a mRNA vaccine. Before the pandemic, the company‘s market value was around $6.5 billion, it’s now $65 billion after reaching as high as $195 billion in August 2021. The value of Bancel’s holdings are driven by this rise and fall—not his trades. He still owns more than 21.8 million shares of Moderna stock valued at $3.5 billion and remains the largest insider shareholder.
Other Moderna executives selling stock
Filings also show recent sales by Moderna’s chief technical operations and quality officer Juan Andres and chief financial officer David Meline. Those documents indicate that the sales were made automatically to cover the taxes on stock that was given as pay.
Prior scrutiny of Moderna insiders’ trading
This isn’t the first time Moderna leaders have garnered public scrutiny for cashing in on company stock. Between January and…