Novartis, Roche chiefs still top list of highest-paid Swiss managers despite exec-pay uproar

Roche CEO Severin Schwan

Swiss citizens may have recently voted for some of the world's tightest controls on executive pay. But did that keep the Roche ($RHHBY) and Novartis ($NVS) pharma chiefs from pocketing more than 13 million Swiss francs ($13.6 million) last year? Not according to a new study.

Shareholder group Ethos found that despite the recent hullabaloo over the pharma helmsmen's compensation, both Roche's Severin Schwan and Novartis' Joe Jimenez topped the list of the country's highest-paid managers, Reuters reports. And Ethos has concerns about that.

"Double-digit sums are difficult to accept in Switzerland," Ethos director Dominique Biedermann told reporters, as quoted by the news service. "When Mr. Schwan and Mr. Jimenez earn 13 million in a good year, but not a record year, what will they earn in a record year?"

Those questions follow new rules, backed by Swiss voters last year, that give shareholders the power to veto exec pay proposals and ban big bonuses for incoming and outgoing execs--like the 72-million-franc goodbye present watchdogs last year shot down for former Novartis CEO and Chairman Daniel Vasella.

Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez

But Ethos' findings don't mean the measures aren't working. On the contrary, it also said the initiative appeared to have curbed exec pay growth. Last year, Schwan netted 13.4 million francs, a 13% dip from the previous year, while Jimenez' payoff stayed stable at 13.2 million francs--all despite a noteworthy rise in company share prices and profit, Reuters points out.

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Special Report: 15 Highest-Paid Biopharma CEOs of 2013 - Joe Jimenez - Novartis - Severin Schwan - Roche