Pfizer boss sold £4.2m stake on day of vaccine breakthrough


The chief executive of Pfizer sold a $5.6m (£4.2m) stake in the business on the same day it announced its Covid vaccine breakthrough.

According to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Albert Bourla sold 132,508 shares in the drugs giant at $41.94 a share. The disposal accounted for 62% of his stake in the business, reducing his holding to 78,273 shares.

Pfizer shares rocketed by as much as 15% on Monday morning to a peak of $41.99 on news its Covid-19 vaccine, developed with its Germany partner BioNTech, was 90% effective in clinical trials.

According to Pfizer, Bourla’s sale was automated after shares hit a target price in a plan set up in August.

News of the vaccine has sent stock markets across the world surging, with the FTSE 100 up 8% this week, while US stocks and the MSCI All-Country World Index hit record highs.

It also sparked a revival in economically sensitive value stocks such as the travel and leisure sectors, which have climbed on hope that the world now has some prospect of escaping rolling waves of infection and lockdown.

These include British Airways-owner International Consolidation Airlines Group, which has shot up by around 40% this week, although that remains 42% below its price in January.

Value investment trusts also rallied, with James Henderson and Laura Foll’s Lowland Investment Company among the biggest risers.

There were some signs that a first wave of the relief rally had now peaked, however.

Digital economy stocks which have led the market since March were once again in the ascendancy yesterday, as investors booked some profit. The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 2% overnight, beating the 0.8% gain on the broader S&P 500.

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AXA Investment Manager’s Linden Thomson, who manages the firm’s Biotech fund and her colleague Peter Hughes, manager of the AXA IM healthcare strategies fund, had described the vaccine breakthrough as a positive step, but also highlighted the battle to get it to market.

‘Even with a successful vaccine, a mass roll-out will face logistical challenges and could take longer than the market is expecting,’ the duo said.

‘However, the current backdrop of unprecedented speed of innovation will hopefully deliver the solution the world so desperately needs right now – and bring the current health crisis to an end.’



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