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Moncef Slaoui To Divest Moderna Stake As He Joins White House Vaccine Accelerator

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Moncef Slaoui To Divest Moderna Stake As He Joins White House Vaccine Accelerator

President Donald Trump's administration announced Monday that former Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) board member Moncef Slaoui is divesting his stock options in the biotechnology company, CNN reported.

Slaoui Selected For 'Operation Warp Speed' 

Slaoui held 155,438 shares in Moderna as of Monday, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At Monday's closing price, his stake is worth about $12.4 million.

A spokesperson at the United States Department of Health and Human Services told CNN the sale of the shares was likely to be completed by Tuesday morning.

Slaoui was tapped by the president on Friday to lead "Operation Warp Speed," a federal multiagency project in partnership with private players that intends to significantly speed up the production of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. 

The former head of the vaccine department at GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) resigned from Moderna's board after his appointment at the White House, but maintained there was no conflict of interest in him holding stake in the lead COVID-19 vaccine developer.

Warren Calls Stock Holdings 'Huge Conflict Of Interest' 

Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, had called on Slaoui to divest.

The vaccine expert is likely to play a central role in deciding which vaccine candidate is accelerated to achieve mass production by Trump's touted timeline of January.

Moderna's shares surged Monday as the company reported positive interim data from its Phase 1 study and said it was aiming to move to phase three trials by July.

Others, including Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), are also developing potential candidates for COVID-19 vaccines that are likely to be studied by the recently established federal vaccine accelerator.

MRNA Price Action

Moderna shares closed nearly 20% higher at $80 on Monday. The stock was down 4.25% at $76.60 in Tuesday's premarket session following the announcement of a $1.3-billion offering. 

 

 

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