Shares in corporations producing vaccines, antibodies and different instruments to fight the Covid-19 pandemic have skyrocketed since March 2020. The unprecedented growth in healthcare shares helped mint a minimum of 40 new billionaires with ties to corporations combating Covid-19. On the identical time, one high-profile investor in Cambridge, Massachusetts-based vaccine maker Moderna—life sciences VC outfit Flagship Pioneering, led by Moderna cofounder and chairman Noubar Afeyan—cashed in on the agency’s hovering inventory value, promoting greater than $1.5 billion in shares for the reason that World Well being Group declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Executives at Moderna and different pharma corporations that developed vaccines for Covid-19, together with Pfizer and Novavax, bought an additional $400 million in shares over the identical time interval, for a complete of $1.9 billion.
Afeyan, who Forbes estimates has a internet value of $2.3 billion, owns a big stake in Moderna largely by way of his majority possession of Flagship, which he established in 2000 as a agency to construct and fund promising startups in life sciences and know-how. Two Flagship funds—Flagship Ventures Fund IV, L.P. and Flagship Ventures Fund IV-Rx, L.P.—bought 53% of their Moderna holdings, about 10.3 million shares, for greater than $1.4 billion (pretax) in three units of gross sales in late February and late March this yr. Earlier than that, the funds additionally bought 1 million shares for $68.2 million (pretax) in Could 2020. In accordance with SEC filings, Afeyan owns a minimum of 75% of Flagship, and the agency immediately owns 4% of Flagship Ventures Fund IV however doesn’t personal any of Flagship Ventures Fund IV-Rx.
“Our gross sales over current weeks and months had been pursuant to a 10b5-1 plan put in place final December and executed in two installments following the passage of 60 days from the unique submitting,” a spokesperson for Flagship informed Forbes. “As per our kind 4 submitting, this program lined 10 million shares, and is now concluded. On the time Moderna spun out from Flagship ten years in the past, Flagship held roughly 60 million shares, and since 2019 it has periodically made distributions of roughly half that sum to its traders.” Flagship funds retain 20 million shares in Moderna after the transactions.
Whereas Moderna’s chairman could also be behind the most important gross sales, the pharmaceutical govt who personally bought essentially the most shares is Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. He bought about 1.7 million shares—7% of his stake—for a mixed $161.2 million (pretax) since March 2020, making the most of the inventory’s blistering rise for the reason that onset of the pandemic. He nonetheless owns a 6% stake within the firm, a part of an estimated $5.5 billion internet value that features about $1.5 billion in Moderna choices. Moderna shares closed at $23.61 on March 11, 2020; they hit a excessive of $185.98 on February 8, 2021 and closed at $169.50 on April 21, 2021, greater than 600% increased than its pre-pandemic ranges.
The subsequent largest vendor is Bancel’s colleague and Moderna’s chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, who made $108.2 million (pretax) in gross sales of Moderna shares. Moderna’s fifth-largest particular person shareholder, president Stephen Hoge, bought $65.5 million value of Moderna inventory since March 2020; Hoge’s 0.4% stake in Moderna is value roughly $300 million, however he additionally owns about $545 million in choices. Rounding out the group of Moderna sellers is Juan Andres, the agency’s chief technical operations and high quality officer, who bought shares value $27.2 million. Collectively, Moderna executives and Flagship funds have bought practically $1.9 billion (pretax) of the corporate’s fast-rising inventory since March 2020.
Not each Moderna billionaire has been decreasing their place, although: Founding investor Timothy Springer and cofounder Robert Langer, each professors at Harvard and MIT, respectively, additionally turned billionaires due to their Moderna holdings however neither has bought a share for the reason that firm was based in 2010. Forbes estimates Springer has a internet value of $2.6 billion whereas Langer’s is $2.1 billion. One other pandemic-era billionaire, Uğur Şahin of German biotech outfit BioNTech, has additionally by no means bought a share within the firm he cofounded in 2008 along with his spouse (and the agency’s chief medical officer) Özlem Türeci. BioNTech inventory is up greater than 400% since March 11, 2020 and Forbes estimates Şahin’s internet value to be $6.4 billion.
Different pharma executives have been promoting shares as nicely, however to not the extent of these at Moderna. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla bought about 60% of his stake within the firm underneath a preset sale plan in November for about $5.6 million (pretax). Stanley Erck, the CEO of Novavax—which is aiming to safe FDA emergency authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine within the second quarter of 2021—bought about $9.3 million (pretax) of Novavax shares in late September and early November. One other Novavax govt, president of analysis and growth Glenn Gregory, bought practically $20 million (pretax) in shares since March 2020.
Editor’s word, April 22, 2021: This story was up to date with remark from Flagship Pioneering.