Pfizer CEO Was Highest Paid Among Pharma Companies Last Year

Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Ian Read was the highest-paid chief executive officer at a large pharmaceutical company last year, as U.S. top managers remained on average much better paid than their European counterparts.

New York-based Pfizer increased Read’s remuneration 2.5 percent to $25.6 million in 2012, while Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOB)’s Lars Rebien Soerensen was the lowest-paid CEO, with $5 million, Sam Fazeli, a London-based analyst for Bloomberg Industries, wrote in a note today. The median pay of CEOs leading large pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. was $17.2 million last year, 85 percent more than the $9.3 million European average, according to the analyst.

Payments to top managers in Europe, even though lower than in the U.S., remain under scrutiny. A U.K. pension group has recommended that members vote against London-based AstraZeneca Plc (AZN)’s remuneration policy at the company’s annual general meeting on April 25 to protest a “golden hello” payment and planned incentives for Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot.

Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG (NOVN) met similar investor pressure earlier this year because of its plans to pay outgoing Chairman Daniel Vasella $77 million as part of a non-compete agreement. Vasella’s “golden parachute” came to light after details were leaked to the press, leading to a public outcry in Switzerland and prompting him to give up the money.

Large-cap pharmaceutical companies paid their CEOs a median of $13.7 million in 2012, well below the industrials-company median of $21.9 million, according to Bloomberg Industries.

To contact the reporter on this story: Albertina Torsoli in Paris at atorsoli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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