A person stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange at Wall Street on February 24, 2022 in New York ( AFP / ANGELA WEISS)

Pfizer's stock was not 'delisted from the New York Stock Exchange'

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A screenshot of a document has circulated in Facebook posts that claim it shows an application by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to remove all its shares from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) after a court ordered the release of its vaccine data. The claim is false; Pfizer was still listed on the NYSE, as of April 22, 2022. The posts actually shared an application to delist a type of debt instrument called notes, which were delisted because they had been paid in full.

"Why have Pfizer just applied to the New York Stock Exchange to delist all their shares?" reads a Facebook post shared on March 14.

The post suggests the document is linked to a court decision to order the release of documents about the Food and Drug Administration's licensing of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.

The US government agency was responding to a group of scientists who requested expedited access to an estimated 450,000 pages of vaccine data.

A screenshot of the Facebook post, taken on April 15, 2022.

Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer, have been targeted by a wave of misinformation that AFP has debunked.

This document was shared in a string of Facebook posts alongside the same claim, including here and here.

'Certainly not' delisting shares

The Facebook posts actually show a Pfizer application to delist notes -- not shares -- from the NYSE.

A note is a promise from a borrower to an investor to repay debt plus interest at a future date.

Once the debt and interest have been paid off, companies file a Form 25 application to delist notes from the NYSE.

In February 2017, the company announced a debt offering to investors partly consisting of 0.25 percent euro-denominated notes due 2022.

This refers to debt with a payable interest of 0.25 percent due to be repaid in 2022.

"The 0.25 percent Notes due 2022 were euro-denominated notes that were paid in full on March 7, 2022 in accordance with their terms and maturity date," a Pfizer spokesperson told AFP.

Asjeet S. Lamba, head of the finance department at the University of Melbourne in Australia, said the document did not show Pfizer had removed it shares from the stock exchange.

"As the debt instrument has matured, it cannot trade on a market. The company has done nothing else and is certainly not delisting its shares from the US markets," he told AFP.

He said a company like Pfizer was "highly unlikely" to delist its shares from the NYSE.

"Typically, an exchange would delist a company if its share price and trading volume fell precipitously. For example, a company in financial distress," he said.

He pointed to US department store chains Sears and JCPenney, which were kicked off the NYSE in 2018 and 2020 respectively after trading under US$1 for 30 consecutive days, as per stock exchange rules.

Pfizer's stock remains listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ under the symbol "PFE" and is trading at US$49.75, as of April 20, 2022.