Vas Narasimhan and Severin Schwan each claimed pay packets worth $12M+ for 2021
Two of the top paid European pharma CEOs have reported their income for 2021. And while both could boast of some hefty pay packages for the year behind us, the numbers are likely to be dwarfed as the US execs — including some leaders of much smaller biotechs — begin to report their compensation later in the year.
Roche CEO Severin Schwan jumped into the lead in this first cut of the income numbers, though not by much. His compensation package rang up to 11.5 million CHF ($12.4 million). And Vas Narasimhan, who took the helm at Novartis just 4 years ago, claimed 11.2 million ($12 million) CHF.
While biopharma has been a darling on Wall Street for much of the pandemic, the last 6 months haven’t been particularly kind to these companies. Novartis shares have looped up and down somewhat, but are down 6% for the past half-year, while Roche stock is down 4% for the same period.
The Dow during the same period is up slightly.
Narasimhan has had his hands full with Sandoz, the big generics unit which appears headed into another downturn in the year ahead. The game plan now is to see how to get rid of the millstone around its neck while looking to M&A and deals to grow the pipeline and spark more enthusiasm for the pipeline.
In Roche’s case, the global giant has a variety of revenue streams to depend on as they look to shed the lingering effects of the pandemic behind and go on to faster growth in the year ahead.
Neither of these players had much to do with fighting Covid-19 with new drugs or vaccines, leaving them out of the sweepstakes play that left Pfizer to enjoy the big windfall as Moderna and BioNTech benefited from the overnight creation of a mega market.
Regardless of overall performance, though, the CEOs of the US pharmacy are likely to report much heftier pay packets, if history can tell us anything. Eli Lilly’s Dave Ricks gathered $23.7 million in compensation in 2020, while Giovanni Caforio at Bristol Myers Squibb claimed $20 million for the same stretch. The split reflects 2 entirely different mindsets by investors, with the Europeans far more likely to blister an exec for anything seen as overreaching at their expense.