Link maker

No link between Moderna CEO’s deleted Twitter and stock sales

A social media post has incorrectly suggested there is a link between Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel’s Twitter activity and his stock trading.

“Moderna CEO deleted his Twitter and dumped $400 million worth of Moderna stock,” a Feb. 15 Instagram post read, referring to the COVID-19 vaccine maker. “Big Pharma seems to know bad news is coming.”

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Bancel deleted his personal Twitter account (@sbancel) in February and has sold a substantial amount of Moderna stock in recent years, but the publication ignores important context regarding the timing and circumstances of the sales, and leaves a misleading impression as to the reasons behind them.

Bancel, whose compensation includes salary and stock options, has been selling Moderna stock regularly since September 2019. Over the past two-and-a-half years, he has sold about $400 million worth of company stock as part of of regular trading, according to a website that tracks trading by company insiders.

The transactions comply with Securities and Exchange Commission rules that allow insiders of the company to sell shares on pre-determined dates. This helps managers avoid any appearance or suspicion of insider trading, that is, trading based on inside information that is not publicly available.

According to February filings with the SEC, Bancel’s business plan was adopted in December 2018, around the time the company went public, and was last amended in May 2020.

Thus, the post’s claim that he “dumped” $400 million in connection with bad news is inaccurate. Bancel’s sales in February were in line with its trading plan.

On Feb. 2, Bancel sold 19,000 shares of Moderna, 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, according to a filing with the SEC. 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, a company spokesperson told PolitiFact.

Moderna’s share price is a far cry from its August 2021 high, when it traded near $500 per share. Its recent closing prices have been around a third of that.

Bancel deleted his personal Twitter account earlier this month. It’s unclear why he did it, but Bancel wasn’t very active on Twitter. His last tweets were from April 2019, according to a November 2021 archived version of his account.

Our decision

An Instagram post claimed, “Moderna CEO deleted his Twitter and dumped $400 million worth of Moderna stock” and suggested the moves were due to impending bad news about the company.

Bancel has deleted his rarely used Twitter account, but there is no evidence to suggest the action is linked to his stock trading or bad news about the company.

He didn’t “dump” $400 million worth of stock. His stock sales took place over more than two years, in a series of regular trading. The most recent sales were $6.1 million. He still owns 21.8 million shares of Moderna.

We rate this claim primarily false.