Brent Saunders, Allergan

CEO, Allergan (formerly Actavis)
Total 2014 Compensation: $36.61 million

Brent Saunders' upward trajectory has taken him from the CEO suite at Bausch & Lomb (till it sold to Valeant) to the top job at Forest Laboratories (till it sold to Actavis) to the top job at Actavis, until it bought Allergan ($AGN) and took on its target's name. Now, he's CEO at that combined company, and his pay has hit a career high.

At Actavis in 2014--where he spent just part of the year--he took down $36.6 million, most of it in the form of stock awards, which amounted to $25.9 million. His base salary was just $500,000, though he collected $1.5 million in incentive pay on top of that. Options worth $8.6 million and $55,000 in other perks round out the total.

Before his stint at Actavis began with the closing of the Forest buyout, Saunders picked up at least $3.3 million at Forest itself. That brings his 2014 haul to almost $40 million.

Believe it or not, though, Saunders could be in for a bigger package for 2015 and beyond. As the Allergan buyout was wrapping up, Actavis outlined some "merger success" awards for its executives--including one for Saunders that could be worth $30 million down the road. And there's an additional "transformation incentive award" tied to the Allergan buyout. At its annual meeting in early June, shareholders overwhelmingly approved the company's compensation plan, and a separate vote on the incentive awards was even more successful.

The company has some big goals ahead, and Saunders has been quite willing to talk about his plan to make Allergan behave like a smaller, more nimble and entrepreneurial "growth pharma" company, despite the fact that it's now big enough to be dubbed a Big Pharma. He's tasked with achieving 10% annual sales growth going forward, including doubling its branded revenue this year alone. And he intends to do so without socking a lot of money into unproductive early-stage R&D, preferring to buy development projects that are already successfully underway.

The company doesn't appear to be finished with its M&A drive, either. Days after shareholders OK'd that compensation plan, the company was announcing its next deal: the $2.1 billion buyout of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, which has a newly approved double-chin injection as well as an in-development hair-loss remedy. Allergan sees the buyout as a springboard for building male customers for its considerable lineup of aesthetic products.

For more:
Call it Allergan, call it a 'growth pharma.' Just don't call it Big Pharma
What's in a name? For newly transformed Allergan, branded sales
Actavis execs up for $101M in merger-related bonuses, if investors approve
Actavis job-cutting drive hits 400-plus on Long Island
Actavis CEO: Pharma believer and Botox user, yes. The Borg? No
Big Pharma vs. 'growth pharma'? Let Actavis chief detail the differences

Brent Saunders, Allergan