The best of paychecks, the worst of paychecks ...

It's a tale of two companies--and their varying approaches to executive rewards. On one page we have Novo Nordisk, the Danish company best known for diabetes meds. CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen earned about $1.8 million in total compensation for 2008. Yes, that's total, not base salary. Compared with his U.S. counterparts, Sørensen is getting cheated.

Looking down the Novo org chart, COO Kåre Schultz was the only one who stood out--for his car allowance. He got about $151,750 in 2008, down from an amazing $219,000 in 2007. Still, the guy's not getting rich off the company by any means.

And then there's Elan. If you've been following this company lately, you know that the senior management and investors are duking it out. Among the contention points was the Irish company's frequent use of corporate jets, you'll recall, not to mention generally "arrogant" and wasteful management. Now, Elan is considering selling off a stake to raise some cash.

So what does Elan do? It hands out thousands of shares to executives and directors, including chairman Kyran McLaughlin and CFO Shane Cooke, BNet Pharma reports. McLaughlin got 11,250 shares, and Cooke got almost $920,000 worth of shares and options. Collectively, the officers and directors got more than $2.5 million worth of stock and options. The options and restricted shares kick in if an employee is let go within two years of a takeover; the directors' shares vest when they retire, so long as they stick around for six years first. Retention bonuses? We wonder what the investors think of that... and expect we'll soon find out.

- see the Elan story at BNet Pharma
- get more on Elan from the Independent
- read the Novo article, also at BNet