UPDATED: During Moderna's 'transition year,' CEO Stéphane Bancel's total pay fell by about 12%

Editor's Note: The story has been updated with Stéphane Bancel's 2023 compensation based on grant date fair value instead of target value.

Despite Moderna’s efforts to prove its mRNA thesis beyond COVID-19 in 2023, the post-pandemic hangover took a toll on the company. In turn, much of the company’s top brass—including CEO Stéphane Bancel—saw their total compensation fall for the year.

For his work in 2023, Bancel received a payout of around $17.1 million, down from the $19.4 million he collected in 2022, Moderna said in a recent proxy filing.

Moderna increased Bancel’s salary 5% to nearly $1.6 million and awarded the helmsman about $1.9 million as a bonus. The remaining roughly $12.5 million of Bancel’s haul came in the form of equity awards split between stock and personal share units, according to the filing.

Moderna handed out “uniform bonuses” to Bancel and other members of the executive committee in a bid to share responsibility for both the good and the bad in 2023. As a result, all execs, including Bancel, received bonuses equaling 81% of a target that was 150% of each person’s salary.

Moderna’s compensation committee argued this approach would help establish “collective accountability for the company’s overall performance.”

While Moderna said it made progress on its mission to deliver mRNA drugs and vaccines beyond COVID-19, the company admitted that it fell short on its financial goals for the year.

The company’s mRNA shot Spikevax generated $6.7 billion in net sales in 2023, coming in below Moderna’s internal targets as demand diminished in the endemic vaccine market, the company explained.

Moderna also recorded an operating loss of $4.2 billion for 2023, which “fell significantly short of internal targets.”

Last year, when Bancel was awarded $19.4 million, the CEO also collected more than $392 million in stock sales. At the time, Bancel stressed his intention to donate after-tax proceeds to charity.

Despite the slight downturn in pay, Bancel is still making far more money than he was in 2020, when Moderna was busy developing its COVID vaccine with the help of approximately $2.5 billion in grants and vaccine purchase agreements from the U.S. government. That year, Bancel took home $12.9 million. And in 2019—before his company became a household name—the CEO collected $8.9 million in total compensation.

Moderna executives have branded 2023 a “year of transition” for the mRNA specialist. Much of that interim work was reflected in the company’s manufacturing operations last year, which saw Moderna right-size its manufacturing footprint as part of the switch from a pandemic to an endemic vaccine market. Simultaneously, the company started to build out a recently acquired manufacturing facility in Marlborough, Massachusetts, which will help bring Moderna’s Merck-partnered cancer vaccine candidate up to commercial scale.

So far, Bancel is sitting near the top of the highest-paid biopharma CEOs in 2023—with the caveat that many U.S.-based companies have yet to reveal their executive compensation numbers for the year.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, for instance, took home 16.9 million pounds sterling ($21.3 million) for his performance in 2023. The chief of AZ’s crosstown rival GSK—Emma Walmsley—collected 12.7 million pounds sterling ($16 million).

Elsewhere, CEOs at fellow European pharmas Novo Nordisk, Roche and Sanofi all took home pay packages hovering around the $10 million mark.