Covid-19 vaccine news hints at windfall for Irish Pfizer shareholders

Pfizer has around 4,000 employees in Ireland currently, including around 800 in Ringaskiddy and Little Island in Cork.
Covid-19 vaccine news hints at windfall for Irish Pfizer shareholders

Aerial Photographs of Pfizers in Ringaskiddy., Cork. Picture: Tom Coakley Photography.

Some Irish workers and retired staff of Pfizer could have significantly boosted their nest eggs today after their employer's announcement of a promising Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough.

Pfizer has around 4,000 employees in Ireland currently, including around 800 in Ringaskiddy and Little Island in Cork.

Some current and former employees hold shares and share options with the global pharmaceutical giant.

The company's pronouncement that its vaccine developed with German firm BioNTech could be 90% effective sent shares soaring by a whopping 11% before the market opened.

That means, at least on paper, those Irish employees and those who have retired from the company's 50-plus year stay in Cork with shares would see a spike in their stock portfolios and planned retirement coffers.

Given the market’s ever-fluid reaction to such news, the share price will fluctuate and it remains to be seen how long the stock will fly so high.

One of the first pharmaceutical companies to locate in Ireland, Pfizer has 4,000 employees across six locations in Cork, Dublin, and Kildare since it first arrived in 1969, seduced by a generous corporation tax rate of 12.5% and a population ravenous for well-paid jobs in a stable industry.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotech firm BioNTech have said their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection. Picture: Reuters
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotech firm BioNTech have said their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection. Picture: Reuters

In May 2019, Pfizer celebrated 50 years in its Ringaskiddy site, which it called a major milestone for the company.

Total capital investment by Pfizer in Ireland has now exceeded $8bn (€6.74bn) and its business interests in this country range across manufacturing, shared services, research and development, treasury, and commercial operations.

Pfizer exports bulk pharmaceuticals, the active ingredients in its medications for humans and animals, from its large plant in Ringaskiddy to Pfizer plants around the world. In 2014, a $30m specialist high-tech laboratory facility opened at the site.

Last month, it announced a €300m capital investment in its Irish operations to further develop existing manufacturing sites in Ringaskiddy, Grange Castle, Newbridge and Ringaskiddy. Another 300 jobs will be created.

The vaccine breakthrough is unlikely to involve Cork employees in its production, but Newbridge may have a role down the line.

The bulk of the work will most likely take place in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Belgium.

Although scientific experts were quick to measure expectation around the breakthrough, pointing out that it is still to be peer-reviewed by independent scientists, Pfizer bosses were equally quick to grab the world's attention.

The firm's chief executive Albert Bourla called it “a great day for science and humanity”.

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