J&J investor demands that CEO give up millions in pay

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) CEO Bill Weldon (photo) is the highest-paid Big Pharma chief, no question. His $28.7 million in 2010 pay put him far above the second-place executive, and he made even more in 2009. The difference, as J&J watchers know, stemmed from a series of recalls that dinged sales by $600 million. Missing some targets cost Weldon 7% of his compensation.

But a new shareholder suit claims Weldon's pay didn't suffer nearly enough. And it questions whether Weldon's performance over the past 5 years warrants the 100% increase in pay he's received. As BNet Pharma reports, Weldon's 2005 pay of $14.3 million grew to $30 million in 2009 before dropping to last year's $28.7 million.

According to the suit, Weldon has been paid $150 million since 2006, and his pay amounts to more than the next four drug execs on the highest-paid list, combined.

Why not? The shareholder--the George Leon Family trust, which has owned J&J stock since 2008--says J&J is violating its own credo in paying Weldon so highly at a time when the company has issued 26 recalls, been subject to repeated government probes of its drug marketing and manufacturing and engaged in unsavory behavior, including paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government. The suit quotes Weldon himself--accepting full responsibility for the McNeil recalls--in demanding that the CEO "disgorge" his compensation. J&J hasn't yet filed a response to the shareholder action.

- read the BNET Pharma post

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