Moderna’s finance head is out as former employer conducts investigation

Dive Brief:

  • Moderna disclosed Tuesday that its recently appointed chief financial officer is leaving the company effective immediately, as his former employer conducts an investigation into “certain matters, including financial reporting.”
  • Moderna announced early last month that Jorge Gomez would take over the CFO role from David Meline, an industry veteran who came out of retirement in 2020 to help run the company. Gomez officially took the reins on Monday. But by Tuesday, he was out. The departure coincided with a public filing from Dentsply Sirona, a dental equipment manufacturer where Gomez had served as finance chief since August 2019.
  • Dentsply said it is looking into incentives used to sell its products during the back half of last year, and whether those incentives – and the corresponding sales – were properly accounted for and disclosed. Dentsply is also investigating allegations that current and former members of senior management steered these incentives, among other actions, to hit executive compensation targets.

Dive Insight:

The rapid development and success of its coronavirus vaccine made Moderna a household name over the past two years. It’s also created one of the world’s largest and most deep-pocketed biotechnology companies, with $ 19 billion in cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale investments by the end of March.

The role of CFO, then, is perhaps more important to Moderna now than ever before. Finance chiefs oversee how sales are accounted for and how money is spent. And they’re often deeply involved with dealmaking, which Moderna could find itself doing more of given its cash reserves and the widespread interest in its technology.

Though Moderna was able to coax Meline, who spent years leading the financial operations of Amgen and 3M, out of retirement, it became clear that a more permanent appointment would be necessary. The company ultimately saw Gomez as a strong fit, believing his prior work with Dentsply would be valuable to Moderna’s growth.

“As we grow and scale the company globally, Jorge’s experience leading the financial functions of multinational healthcare companies will be an asset to our team,” Modern CEO Stéphane Bancel said on April 11, in a press release announcing Gomez’s hiring.

But just over a month later, Moderna reversed course. In a filing, the company said Gomez departed on May 10. And as of May 11, Meline will again come out of retirement to continue on in the CFO role.

As for Dentsply, the company has retained independent outside counsel, which in turn has tapped a forensic accounting firm to aid in its investigation.

Dentsply said that it doesn’t know what impact the probe will have on historical financial statements. However, the company did note that it will not be able to meet the prescribed date to file its most recent earnings report, covering the first three months of 2022, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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