Swiss Rival CEOs Take Home More than $12M Each in 2021

Executive Salaries

The chief executive officers of two pharmaceutical giants based in Switzerland that both saw revenue growth for the past year each took home more than $12 million in total compensation for 2021.

Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan took home $12.16 million in total compensation for 2021. In 2020, his total compensation was valued at about $11.24 million. Compensation included base salary and stocks, pension, and additional expenses. 

According to the Novartis annual report released last week, Narasimhan, who has been at the company's helm for the past four years, received a base salary of $1,916,521.28 last year. In 2020, Narasimhan’s base salary was $1,886,000. He received $8,324,680.80 in various stock options and $1,439,259.60 in cash incentives.

Data from the company's fourth-quarter and year-end report was overall positive. As BioSpace reported, net sales for 2021 increased by 4%. In the fourth quarter, sales were up 6%, and operating income increased 13%.

The Novartis executive compensation committee said in its 2021 CEO performance assessment, that Narasimhan's leadership "showed solid financial results, including sales and profit growth at or above target and most strategic objectives, were achieved or exceeded." Additionally, the committee noted that productivity improvements in technical operations were considered a "particular highlight" of the CEO's performance. The committee pointed out that some clinical trial failures resulted in a "disappointing share price development." But, overall, the committee was highly pleased with Narasimhan's performance.

At Roche, the crosstown Basel, Switzerland rival of Novartis, the CEO also saw a boost in his annual compensation over the previous year. Severin Schwan received a total compensation package valued at $12.48 million. His base salary for 2021 was $4.3 million, an increase over the $4.1 million he took home in 2020, the company noted in its annual report. In 2019, Schwan also received a $4.3 million base salary. 

In addition to his base salary, Schwan received a $3.02 million bonus and $4.2 million in stock options. 

Like Narasimhan, Schwan was awarded financially for navigating his company to another strong year of innovation and financial return for the year. Throughout 2021, the company's pharmaceuticals division saw a 3% increase in sales. The company noted in its year-end report that there is continued demand for newly-launched drugs that offset the impact of biosimilar medications seeing increased use across the globe. Roche's diagnostics division saw a massive 29% increase in sales for the year. The company said there was strong momentum in its base business that was driven by a high demand for COVID-19 tests. 

While Schwan and Narasimhan were well compensated for their leadership at Roche and Novartis, respectively, other pharma CEOs have brought home significantly higher paydays, including the heads of Regeneron and BioMarin

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