J&J's Weldon sees pay top $30 million

Well, now we know the pharma chief who made the most money in 2009. It's last year's winner, Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon (photo). In a year when many pharma CEOs have seen their paychecks shrink at least slightly, Weldon's compensation grew to $30.8 million. That's an increase of 5.5 percent.

Here's how Weldon's compensation package breaks down: Base salary was $1.8 million, up very slightly from 2008 levels. Stock awards, at $2.76 million, also came in just above the previous year's. Weldon's stock options for 2009 increased by a healthy $1.3 million or so, to $5.24 million. But the bulk of his compensation came as bonus pay: $12.83 million.

Let's take a closer look at that bonus. It's a combination of an annual cash bonus and "CLC units" that vest over time and pay dividends equal to J&J's common-stock dividends. Those CLC units are designed to help executives focus on long-term as well as short-term goals. Weldon's cash bonus for 2009 was $3.6 million, or almost a third of the total; some $5 million in CLC units vested during the year; and his CLC units paid a little over $4 million in dividends.

Now for some background: J&J didn't have a stellar year; two big drugs went off patent, annual sales dropped, and the company launched a restructuring plan that will claim some 6 percent to 7 percent of its workforce. But the proxy cited these difficulties as reasons why Weldon deserved more pay, because he "made difficult personnel decisions with the restructuring" while continuing to focus on the company's long-term goals. Call it the grace-under-pressure bonus.

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