Riding high after its IPO, Moderna chief nabs $59M, biopharma's biggest 2018 paycheck

Stéphane Bancel earned biopharma's largest pay package so far, based on available SEC filings. (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s not often that biotech sees a record-breaking IPO, but longtime unicorn and fundraising champ Moderna managed just that last year. And the newly public company’s CEO topped the charts himself with a 2018 compensation package bigger than any other biopharma chief’s pay.

On the heels of the company’s $604 million public offering, the biotech handed Stéphane Bancel a pay package worth $58.6 million. That far eclipses the second-place CEO, Teva Pharmaceutical’s Kåre Schultz, and his $33 million compensation—and dwarfs Bancel's own 2017 package of $6.8 million.

Almost all of Bancel’s 2018 pay came from option awards that vest in tranches over the next five years. Bancel nabbed more than 900,000 shares last February and another 4.59 million shares in December, a securities filing shows.

The first grant, at $14.22 per share, started vesting in February 2019. The second, granted at the IPO price of $23 per share, starts vesting next year.

In its December IPO, Moderna pulled in $604 million, capping off a bumper year for biotech IPOs in 2018. Another CEO who ranks among biopharma's highest paid, according to FiercePharma research, counts a 2018 stock offering among his accomplishments: China-based BeiGene reeled in $903 million in a Hong Kong secondary listing, and its top exec snared a $15 million bonus for his efforts.

Aside from stock options, Bancel's salary jumped 32% last year to around $863,000, and his cash incentive pay leapt 20% to $1.8 million. In all, Bancel's 2018 pay ballooned more than eight times from his 2017 pay package of $6.8 million 

Bancel has served as CEO at Moderna since 2011; the biotech started operations in 2010. The company is advancing mRNA-based drugs and vaccines, and has inked partnerships with AstraZeneca and Merck on certain candidates.

RELATED: Moderna’s cash juggernaut rolls on with record $604M IPO 

Bancel's pay tops all other 2018 pay packages for CEOs leading biopharma companies large and small. Behind Schultz’s $33 million pay package, BeiGene’s John Oyler earned $27.89 million and Regeneron’s Len Schleifer pulled in $26.5 million.