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If You Want to Be a Rich CEO, Work in Health Care

  • Health care, drugmaker managers average $37 million a year
  • Biggest compensation in finance trails health care by 8.6%

Managing doctors and researchers might be more lucrative than overseeing bankers or computer programmers.

Among the 200 top-paid U.S. executives at public companies, those in health care and pharmaceutical businesses were awarded average pay packages of $37 million in their most recent fiscal year, the most of any sector, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index, which ranks executives based on awarded compensation. Information-technology managers were No. 2 at $35.3 million.

The best-paid executive officers in financial services were awarded $33.8 million on average, about 8.6 percent below their colleagues in health care, according to the index. Awarded compensation includes salary, bonuses, perks, change in the value of pensions and equity awards valued at each company’s fiscal year-end stock price.

Outliers in each sector help lift the averages. Topping the list is Patrick Soon-Shiong, chief executive officer of cancer-research firm NantKwest Inc., whose most recently disclosed pay package was valued at $329.7 million, followed by boutique investment bank PJT Partner Inc.’s founder Paul Taubman with $164 million. Google Inc.’s CEO Sundar Pichai was third with $151.9 million.

In energy, Atlas Energy Group LLC CEO Edward Cohen and Executive Chairman Jonathan Cohen reaped $73.5 million and $64 million, respectively, mostly thanks to severance payments and cash-out of equity awards following a merger.

The Bloomberg Pay Index ranks executives whose pay is disclosed in regulatory filings. Part of the compensation typically pays out over several years contingent on vesting criteria.

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