Roche CEO Schwan beats Novartis chief with $12.3M in 2015 pay, but U.S. companies shell out more

Roche CEO Severin Schwan

Roche ($RHHBY) CEO Severin Schwan's total pay for 2015 didn't change much from the previous year: In both instances, he totted up almost 12 million Swiss francs, or $12.3 million at current exchange rates.

Schwan's salary stayed static at 4 million francs. His awards under a stock appreciation plan, at a bit more than 2.6 million francs, varied by just 140 francs. Restricted stock units were down by 40 francs or so to 781,658 francs. And so on.

What did change was Schwan's bonus. It was double his 2014 bonus, at 3.13 million francs versus 1.34 million in 2014. But offsetting that increase was a similar decline in his performance-share plan awards, as Roche phases those out in favor of the stock appreciation plan. The 2015 bonus was paid in shares subject to a 10-year block.

Schwan's 2015 compensation beat crosstown rival CEO, Novartis' ($NVS) Joe Jimenez, by about 400,000 Swiss francs, after Novartis suffered a bit from troubles at its eye unit Alcon and with emerging markets sales (particularly in Venezuela, where devalued currency took a big bite out of revenue across Big Pharma).

Compared with their U.S.-based biopharma rivals, however, both CEO's compensation packages rank far lower. For instance, AbbVie ($ABBV) recently reported more than $20 million in 2015 compensation for chief Richard Gonzalez, and that was down from $22 million in 2014. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) chief Alex Gorsky tabbed up $23.8 million, down from $25 million in 2014.

Roche delivered sales growth in 2015, with overall revenue up by 5% to 48.1 billion francs for the year, but its earnings declined to 13.49 francs per share. This year promises to be a critical one, as the company preps for forthcoming biosimilar competition to its biggest meds, Rituxan and Herceptin. The company anticipates two big drug approvals--multiple sclerosis med ocrelizumab and immuno-oncology treatment atezolizumab--that EvaluatePharma pegs at $2.5 billion and $2.8 billion in 2020 sales, respectively. A leukemia treatment co-developed with AbbVie, Venetoclax, is also in line for FDA approval this year, with sales expectations of more than $1.5 billion by 2020.

Roche pharma chief Daniel O'Day, who'll be leading the charge there, collected a nice pay package for 2015 as well; with a bonus slightly smaller than Schwan's and an increase in base salary for the year, his compensation totaled 8.2 million Swiss francs, or about $8.4 million.

- read the Roche annual report

Special Reports:The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Roche | Top 10 best-selling cancer drugs of 2013 - Avastin - Rituxan/MabThera - Herceptin | The top 20 highest-paid biopharma CEOs of 2015

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