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Shah Capital agitating for Novavax board room shake-up

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Struggling Covid-19 vaccine maker Novovax is coming under pressure from US-based activist hedge fund firm Shah Capital – which owns 6.6% of the company’s stock – to implement an “urgent shake-up” of its board and overhaul its sales strategy, according to a report by the Financial Times.

Shah Capital’s demands come with Novavax’s stock having fallen by 99% from its pandemic peak.

The report cites a letter sent by Shah Capital to the Novavx board on Monday as revealing that the activist wants to see the appointment of two new independent board directors – Suresh Katta, founder of Saama and CEO of the company for 25 years, and Venkat Peri, CEO of healthcare company Quantiva Health.

Shah Capital also wants  a pivot in the biotech’s sales strategy for its Covid-19 shot, which is based on traditional vaccine technology, to target older people unnerved by rare side effects associated with mRNA jabs from Pfizer and Moderna.

Valued at more than $40bn at the height of the pandemic, Novovax had a market value of $600m as of market close on Friday.

In a press statement Shah Capiytal said: “Over a period of more than a year, Shah Capital has engaged repeatedly with the board and made several suggestions aimed at addressing self-inflicted problems which have undermined the success and sustainability of the company. However, the board has regrettably been unresponsive. Following this subsequent inaction by Novavax, which is now trading at a near record low and is one of the most shorted stocks on the Nasdaq, Shah Capital has been forced to make public its concerns and call for leadership change.”

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