18. Ludwig Hantson, Alexion Pharmaceuticals
2018 pay: $16.49 million
2017 pay: $15.31 million
In his first full year at Alexion, Ludwig Hantson racked up $16.5 million in 2018 pay, even higher than Celgene CEO Mark Alles’ $16.2 million.
Hantson jumped to Alexion from Baxalta, which spun off from Baxter in 2015 and since sold to Shire, at a turbulent time. Then-CEO David Hallal and ex-CFO Vikas Sinha had exited amid an internal probe over improper sales practices. And since Hantson’s appointment in 2017, Alexion has assembled an entirely clean slate on its leadership team.
The new executives righted the ship quickly as Hantson spearheaded a campaign to shift the company’s development strategy from ultrarare diseases to less rare diseases to broaden its pool of potential patients. And the company's top line showed it: 2018 sales came in at $4.13 billion, a 16% increase over 2017 and an easy beat to the company's own goal of $3.92 billion.
Plus, under Hantson, Alexion nabbed an early FDA approval for its Soliris follow-up Ultomiris in December. It moved its headquarters from Connecticut to biotech hub Boston to be closer to the biopharma talent pool and hired 1,000 new employees.
After all of that, Hantson pulled in the full $1.2 million base salary and saw his 2018 stock awards climb to $12.4 million from $9.6 million in 2017.
And then there was his cash incentive pay. All key members of the executive team—including Hantson—reaped the maximum cash bonus available because of “their superior individual performance and role in driving our significant organizational changes in 2018,” the company’s board said in an SEC filing. For Hantson, that meant $2.88 million, double the 2018 target award, which was itself 120% of his base salary.
As the company works to expand its pipeline to align with its new business focus, Alexion also made several deals. The company secured an option to buy Dutch biotech Complement Pharma for potential work in neurological disorders, bought rare disease specialist Syntimmune in a deal that could be worth $1.2 billion, snared a phase 3 treatment for rare genetic disorder Wilson disease via a $855 million buyout of Wilson Therapeutics, and tapped into the hot RNAi arena with a Dicerna deal on two preclinical assets.
The deal-making frenzy has apparently extended into 2019. So far this year, Alexion has formed partnerships with Affibody AB for an anti-FcRn molecule and with Zealand Pharma to discover and develop peptide-based therapeutics.