Ka-Ching: F. Michael Ball cashes out of Hospira with $91.1M

F. Michael Ball

Early indications that CEO F. Michael Ball would cash out with $80 million when Pfizer completed its buyout of Hospira were clearly off the mark. Instead the golden parachute for the former CEO allowed him to land softly with $91 million and change.

Pfizer ($PFE) Thursday closed its $15 billion deal at $90 a share for the sterile injectables and biosimilars maker and Ball hit the cash out button for 1.41 million Hospira shares, Bloomberg reports. The shares were worth $127.1 million but it cost him $36 million to exercise them, allowing him to walk away with $91.1 million.

Pfizer had nothing to tell the news service beyond the filing.

It is a hefty sum for a CEO who has been around for only a little more than four years, but it is not as if Ball didn't have his hands full at Hospira. The 57-year-old Canadian became CEO there in March 2011 after 16 years at Botox maker Allergan ($AGN). He arrived a year after the FDA issued warning letters against two of Hospira's key plants and investors were in revolt when its stock price fell by 50%.

Ball spent his first couple of years at earnings calls trying to assure analysts the company was making progress on regulatory concerns, even as they got worse. He settled a shareholder suit and oversaw the company's expansion of operations in India where it both bought and built facilities so it could expand production while lowering its cost of goods. But even those plants ran into problems with the FDA. Last year Hospira was able to turn a corner with its GMP issues, sales grew and Ball was finally able to talk at quarterly calls about the drugmaker's improved earnings.

The turnaround was enough to entice Pfizer to pay a 40% premium on the stock price to get the injectable drug and biosimilars specialist. Pfizer CEO Ian Read wanted it to add the bulk to Pfizer's established products division that he had been looking for.

There has been no word from Ball as to what might come next. After his work getting Hospira back into shape in short order, pharma watchers think there will be no shortage of offers for the the battle-toughened executive from other companies in need of revamps. That is if he wants another job.

- here's the Bloomberg story

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