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In the first two weeks of February, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel sold just over $6 million worth of shares in his company’s stock. Bancel regularly sells stock at predetermined dates, as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations allow.
Bancel deleted his Twitter account around Feb. 11. He rarely used the social media platform; his last tweets were from April 2019.
A social media post erroneously suggested that there is a link between Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel’s Twitter activity and his stock trading.
"The CEO of Moderna deleted his Twitter and dumped $400 million of Moderna stock," a Feb. 15 Instagram post claimed, referring to the COVID-19 vaccine maker. "Big Pharma seems to know some bad news is coming."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Bancel did delete his personal Twitter account (@sbancel) in February and has sold a substantial amount of Moderna stock in recent years, but the post ignores important context about the timing and circumstances of the sales, and leaves a misleading impression about the reasons behind them.
Bancel, whose compensation has included salary and stock options, has been regularly selling Moderna shares since September 2019. Over the last two and a half years, he has sold about $400 million worth of company stock in regularly scheduled trades, according to a website that tracks trading by company insiders.
The transactions are in accordance with Securities and Exchange Commission rules that allow company insiders to sell stock at predetermined dates. Doing so helps executives avoid any appearance or suspicion of illegal insider trading — that is, trading based on inside information that’s not available to the public.
According to the February SEC filings, Bancel’s trading plan was adopted in December 2018, around the time the company went public, and was last modified in May 2020.
So the post’s claim that he "dumped" $400 million in connection with some bad news is inaccurate. Bancel’s sales in February were in line with his trading plan.
On Feb. 2, Bancel sold 19,000 shares of Moderna stock, worth $3.1 million, according to an SEC filing. A week later, on Feb. 9, Bancel sold another 19,000 shares, worth just under $3 million, per an SEC filing. The two transactions amounted to $6.1 million and represented only a small fraction of Bancel’s holdings. He still owns 21.8 million shares of Moderna stock, a company spokesperson told PolitiFact.
Moderna’s stock price is well off its peak in August 2021, when it traded at nearly $500 a share. Its recent closing prices have been about a third of that.
Bancel deleted his personal Twitter account earlier this month. It’s not clear why he did so, but Bancel was not very active on Twitter. His last tweets were from April 2019, according to a November 2021 archived version of his account.
An Instagram post claimed, "The CEO of Moderna deleted his Twitter and dumped $400 million of Moderna stock" and suggested that the moves were due to impending bad news about the company.
Bancel deleted his rarely used Twitter account, but there is no evidence to suggest that action is linked to his stock trades or bad news about the company.
He did not "dump" $400 million of stock. His stock sales happened over more than two years, as part of a series of regularly scheduled trades. The most recent sales amounted to $6.1 million. He still owns 21.8 million shares of Moderna stock.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
Instagram post, Feb. 15, 2022
Twitter post, Feb. 12, 2022
Email interview with Colleen Hussey, Moderna spokesperson, Feb. 16, 2022
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Feb. 2, 2022
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Feb. 9, 2022
SECForm4.com, Insider Trading - Bancel Stéphane, accessed Feb. 16, 2022
Snopes, "Did Moderna CEO Suddenly Dump $400M in Stock?", Feb. 14, 2022
Quartz, "How much Moderna stock Stephane Bancel owns and why he just sold $1.8 million of it," Feb. 13, 2022
CNBC, "Moderna, Pfizer stocks fall as Covid omicron wave subsides in U.S.," Feb. 14, 2022
Stéphane Bancel’s deleted Twitter profile, accessed Feb. 16, 2022
Internet Archive: Wayback Machine, archived version of Stéphane Bancel’s Twitter account, Nov. 2, 2021
Insider Screener, Stéphane Bancel’s Moderna stock trades, accessed Feb. 16, 2022
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