Allergan chief's $140M-plus golden parachute tops pharma--and most other industries, too

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders recently told investors that his company isn’t looking for any more “transformational” M&A. But on the chance a merger does put him out of a job? A mammoth goodbye present awaits.

Saunders’ golden parachute is the fifth-largest among 468 S&P 500 CEOs who have detailed change-in-control agreements in their proxies, according to a new Bloomberg infographic. Potential payout? $140,672,343.

Of that hefty take-home, the vast majority--$98.3 million--would come from accelerated equity vesting. $12.2 million would come in the form of cash severance, while other benefits and perks would make up $30 million.

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If Saunders stays true to his word, though, a merger won’t be forcing him out of the CEO’s post anytime soon. Earlier this month--with comments that tamped down speculation that the company could be eyeing a Biogen buy--Saunders assured investors on Allergan’s Q2 conference call that “we’re not looking for big M&A.”

And while that may seem like a departure for the company--which, as Actavis, snapped up Forest Labs and Allergan before changing its name and inking a now-canceled $160 billion megamerger agreement with Pfizer--it isn’t, Saunders claims.

Focusing on so-called “stepping stone” deals--like the one the company struck last week for vision company ForSight--is not “a new strategy, despite our image ... in the market,” Saunders said.

Meanwhile, Saunders isn’t alone on the list of pharma chief execs who would reap sizable rewards should they face termination. He’s joined in the top 20 by No. 18 Len Schleifer, the skipper of Regeneron, who stands to pocket $90,277,657 if a deal-spurred personnel change forces him out.

Of course, that mammoth tally is no surprise considering Regeneron’s ultra-generous exec compensation packages. In 2014, Schleifer--who scored $41.97 million--led industry execs in the pay department, while the New York company’s R&D chief George Yancopoulos led his peers with $35.5 million. And let’s not forget the year Yancopoulos blew those same peers out of the water on the exec pay charts: In 2012, with blockbuster eye med Eylea taking off, he netted $81.5 million in total compensation.

John Hammergren, CEO of drug distributor McKesson, also makes an appearance high on the list; his No. 3-ranked $198,150,788 golden parachute tops even Saunders'. 

- see the infographic

Related Articles:
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With Allergan deal sealed, Teva turns its attention to branded M&A
Allergan launches $10B buyback, focuses on tuck-in deals
Allergan's on the M&A hunt, but don't confuse it with Valeant: CEO
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