In a year of turnover, Seagen doled out $126M to a trio of CEOs

It appears that Seagen’s David Epstein will have quite a short tenure as CEO of the cancer specialist. But it’s going to pay off nicely.

Epstein, who was hired in November by the Seattle biotech and helped execute its $43 billion sale last month to Pfizer, nabbed a $57.5 million pay package last year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing (PDF).

Considering that Seagen hired Epstein Nov. 9, the former Novartis oncology veteran was compensated more than $1 million per day on the job in 2022.

Epstein wasn’t the only Seagen executive who was well paid in 2022. Former CEO, co-founder and chairman of the board Clay Siegall, Ph.D., who left the company in May after a domestic abuse arrest, received $32.8 million in total compensation last year. Siegall was already one of the industry’s highest-paid CEOs, garnering $18.9 million in 2021.

Seagen and Siegall executed a separation agreement last month after the company concluded that findings in the domestic abuse case "did not support a termination for cause," according to Seagen. Prosecutors did not charge Siegall with a criminal offense.

Siegall received a severance package granting him 1.5 times his annual salary and his target annual bonus for 2022, plus an "acceleration of his outstanding and unvested restricted stock unit and stock option awards by an additional 18 months" following his separation date.

Also scoring big was Seagen's chief medical officer and president of R&D Roger Dansey, M.D., who collected $36.4 million in 2022, a significant bump from his $8.9 million pay package the previous year. Dansey took over as interim CEO when Siegall resigned.

Epstein’s windfall comes almost entirely by way of equity awards—with $42.4 million from stock options and $14.8 million from stock awards. His salary for the year came to $190,385.

The filing also shows that Epstein was provided a $6 million “one-time relocation payment,” for his move from Switzerland-based Novartis to the Seattle area.

Other top execs from the 26-year old company received compensation similar to what they made in 2021. Chief Legal Officer Jean Liu was paid $5.9 million in 2022. Chief Financial Officer Todd Simpson collected $5.7 million. U.S. commercial chief Chip Romp made $5 million. Chief Technical Officer Vaughn Himes, Ph.D., was paid $4.5 million.

Five weeks ago, when Pfizer and Seagen announced the buyout, it became the richest M&A deal since AbbVie acquired Allergan for $63 million in 2019. Seagen, which garnered sales of $2 billion last year, has four FDA approved treatments and a pipeline full of other antibody-drug conjugate candidates.

The companies didn't reveal plans for Seagen's management team at the time of the announcement.

The sale came after months of speculation that Merck was close to buying up Seagen. According to an SEC filing by Seagen earlier this week, the companies first talked of a buyout in 2019.