AbbVie's $21B buyout puts Pharmacyclics execs in line for $4B payoff

Pharmacyclics CEO Robert Duggan would add $3.5 billion to his already substantial wealth, if and when AbbVie's ($ABBV) $21 billion buyout goes through. But considering Duggan's record, a multibillion-dollar payoff is to be expected. It's the other executives and directors--who together qualify for more than $575 million--who could inspire M&A envy.

Mahkam Zanganeh

COO Mahkam Zanganeh, for instance, would rack up severance of $48 million, provided she's squeezed out within two years of the merger. That includes compensation for the tax bill she'd have to pay on her windfall. More immediately--and certainly--she'll reap a hefty $224.6 million for her shares and options, according to an SEC filing about the merger. Not bad for 6 years' work at the biotech.

But that equity payoff also rewards Zanganeh for tagging Pharmacyclics ($PCYC) as an investment target for Duggan in the first place, as her official bio points out. And a big chunk of that amount comes from the 428,281 shares Zanganeh already owns--a stake worth almost $119 million in the merger. The remaining millions come from share awards and options that were part of her compensation.

Pharmacyclics execs who don't already own major stakes in the company will still enjoy quite sizable windfalls. CFO Manmeet Soni, for instance, stands to get $29.8 million for his equity, $15 million in cash for his options and $14 million for stock awards. And if he's in line for a severance payoff almost as big as Zanganeh's at $46 million, provided he's terminated or leaves "for good reason," under the company's severance policy.

And Chief Commercial Officer Shawn Tomasello--who just joined Pharmacyclics last year from Celgene ($CELG)--is up for $28 million in severance herself. Plus almost $29 million for her equity with $26 million of that from options and share awards.

The moral of this story? We'd say the point is that M&A pays off for the execs involved. But that's obvious. The real takeaway? Get a job at Duggan's next venture.

- see the Pharmacyclics filing

Special Reports: Top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - AbbVie