CEO Albert Bourla sold off 60 percent of his shares in drugmaker Pfizer the day its stock price peaked following a favorable report on the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine – but the company insists the sale was kosher.
Pfizer defended its CEO’s sale of 132,508 shares on Monday at near-peak value, claiming in a statement on Wednesday that the trade had been set up back in August as “part of Dr. Bourla’s personal financial planning” in keeping with a pre-established plan allowing “major shareholders and insiders of exchange-listed corporations to trade a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time.”
The stock was sold at $41.94 per share, near the peak of its value on Monday, netting Bourla a cool $5.6 million. Share price would climb to $41.99, buoyed by Monday’s report that Pfizer’s vaccine was 90 percent effective against the novel coronavirus, before inching back down – as of the close of trading on Wednesday, it sits at $38.50.
Bourla isn’t the only Pfizer exec to cash in suspiciously on the vaccine news, either. Executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer Sally Susman made $1.8 million off her sale of 43,000 shares in the company.
The company’s claim that Bourla’s sale was prearranged is only likely to fuel conspiracy theories that Pfizer deliberately waited until after the US elections last week in order to release the positive news. President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., sarcastically tweeted that the timing was “pretty amazing” after the company unveiled the results on Monday, snarking “nothing nefarious about the timing of this at all right?”