TTY Biopharm Co Ltd (台灣東洋藥品) chairman Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday refuted rumors that the company had engaged in insider trading ahead of last month’s announcement that it had won conditional rights to market Bio-NTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine in Taiwan.
Lawmakers on Monday said they suspected that the firm was involved in insider trading, as 2,414 TTY units were traded on the Taipei Exchange on Oct. 12, surging 6.6 times from an average daily trading volume of 365 units in September.
TTY said that it had secured authorization to market the vaccines after the market closed on the same day.
The firm’s share price spiked from NT$69.5 to NT$84.3 on Oct. 15, when a total of 30,108 units were traded, before gradually falling to NT$82.2 on Monday last week, with a total 10,725 units traded, one day before TTY said it had terminated its bid to gain Bio-NTech’s authorization to market the vaccine.
The transactions must have been done by someone with insider information, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) said on Monday.
“I never conducted any insider trading as I despise the behavior. I would welcome any investigation,” Lin told a news conference in Taipei.
“However, there indeed was a chance that someone conducted the insider trading, as the trading volume on Oct. 12 was too high to be normal,” Lin said.
TTY noticed the abnormal trading activity late on Oct. 12 and ran a preliminary investigation before notifying the exchange on Oct. 15, general manager Robbin Shih (施俊良) told a media briefing.
In addition to TTY employees, some officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Bio-NTech staff and local agents of China-based Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co (上海復星醫藥) were involved in the negotiations and knew TTY’s intention to introduce the vaccines, Shih said.
“I highly doubt that it was outside people who conducted the illegal trading, but I would not know who they were. I hope that prosecutors can get to the bottom of it soon,” Lin said.
TTY’s move to abandon the bid to market the vaccine in Taiwan gained attention, as the Bio-NTech and Pfizer Inc-developed vaccine had shown 90 percent effectiveness in preventing COVID-19, prompting speculation that TTY had failed to reach an agreement due to political concerns.
Lin said that TTY stopped trying to acquire the rights as the number of vaccines the CDC intends to purchase was much less than TTY’s expectations, which made the negotiations between TTY and Bio-NTech difficult.
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