(Reuters) - Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO) said on Thursday its former Chief Executive Michael Pearson, who has sold shares worth almost $100 million, remained a significant shareholder.
Pearson, who was replaced by Joseph Papa in May, still holds more than 3.5 million shares - valued at more than $75 million based on Wednesday’s close of $21.62.
“While I trimmed my ownership position for personal reasons, I plan on holding my remaining shares until the company recovers and returns to being traded on fundamentals,” Pearson said in a statement.
Valeant has been under intense scrutiny for its business and accounting practices, and its shares have plummeted 92 percent from the record high of $263.81 it touched last August.
Valeant said Pearson exercised options to sell about 4.4 million shares apart from selling about 411,000 shares in June and July. The company had 343 million shares outstanding as of June 2, according to a regulatory filing.
Wells Fargo analyst David Maris said Pearson appears to have sold the shares at $20 per share on average.
“As the outgoing CEO, we assume Pearson had insight into the state of the business and we consider this selling as a negative sign given the prices at which Pearson sold,” Maris wrote in a note.
Pearson’s share sale was to satisfy tax obligations with respect to the 2015 margin sale conducted by Goldman Sachs and for additional liquidity, Valeant said.
Pearson, who led Valeant since 2008 and drove its growth through serial acquisitions, is required to hold 1 million shares for two years following employment termination.
Laval, Quebec-based Valeant’s shares closed down 6.9 percent at $21.62 on Wednesday after influential short-seller Andrew Left said he was planning on taking a short position on the beleaguered company again.
Left’s comments came a day after Sequoia Fund, which was once Valeant’s largest shareholder, said it exited its position last month.
The company’s U.S.-listed shares (VRX.N) were up 4.2 percent at $22.54 on Thursday.
Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian