Valeant shells out $400K a month in hazard pay for interim CEO Schiller

Interim Valeant CEO Howard Schiller

Interim Valeant CEO Howard Schiller has taken the reins at a tough time for the company. But the way the company sees it, he's reaping an appropriate reward.

Schiller is netting $400,000 a month while Valeant ($VRX) chief J. Michael Pearson recovers from severe pneumonia, the company said Monday in a regulatory filing. That paycheck will come in cash, outside spokeswoman Renee Soto of Sard Verbinnen & Co. told Bloomberg, along with a "reasonable amount of vacation time."

In setting Schiller's pay, Valeant took a look at Schiller's "qualifications, his deep familiarity with and understanding of Valeant's operations, and his ability to lead the company during a time of intense public scrutiny," according to Soto. Schiller had served as Valeant's CFO from 2011 through June of last year.

The company also compared Schiller's take-home to what his counterparts at Valeant's peers make, she said. Pearson collected a $1.9 million salary in 2014, along with $8 million in cash incentive pay, plus stock awards. Schiller's current monthly rate would amount to $4.8 million cash for the full year.

Right now, Schiller is slated to receive that compensation for two months, Valeant said, but "if the board asks Howard to continue as interim CEO at that point, he has indicated he would be willing to do so," Soto noted. Officially sidelined on Dec. 28, Pearson said late last month that he's on the "road to recovery," but the timeline for his comeback is still unclear.

Meanwhile, Schiller, who took the helm on Jan. 6 to replace a temporary "Office of the Chief Executive Officer," has had plenty on his plate. In January, the company launched a drug-discounting program with new partner Walgreens ($WBA), an effort that has so far been recording strong numbers, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat wrote recently to clients. And Thursday, the temporary skipper is set to appear before Congress to answer for his company's price hikes on a pair of heart meds it purchased last summer from Marathon Pharmaceuticals.

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