AstraZeneca's new boss set for £11m pay package

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The Independent Online

AstraZeneca has given its new chief executive a pay package worth about £11m, including a £4m "golden hello" to compensate Pascal Soriot for giving up long-term incentives at his previous job.

The struggling drugs giant poached Mr Soriot, pictured, from rival Roche, where he was head of pharmaceuticals, in August after Astra's previous chief executive David Brennan was ousted in April by shareholders concerned about the pharmaceuticals company's thin drugs pipeline.

Astra yesterday said it will pay Mr Soriot a base salary of £1.1m a year, up on Mr Brennan's £997,223 in 2011, and the new chief executive could pocket another £2m bonus each year.

The Frenchman has also been given long-term targets that could see him receive incentive payments worth another £2.75m, or 250 per cent of his salary, plus a £4m "golden hello" and a £991,000 sum to compensate him for incentives he would have received at Roche, and a £260,000-a-year pension. Mr Soriot's £4m "golden hello" will be granted in AstraZeneca shares, the drug maker said, "where the vesting and the holding period operate over a period of many years".

Half the money will be via restricted share awards, Astra said, with 40 per cent vesting a year after Mr Soriot's first day at AstraZeneca, earlier this month, another 30 per cent doing so on the second anniversary, and 30 per cent on the third.

Mr Brennan's pay package at AstraZeneca – he last year took home £9.1m thanks to share awards and a bonus – was the focus of criticism from shareholders as the drug maker presides over a sales slump as patents on key medicines run out.

Britain's second-largest drug maker reported a 19 per cent fall in third-quarter sales last week, worse than expected, and pre-tax profits in the quarter fell from $4.2bn (£2.5bn) a year ago to $2bn after anti-psychotic drug Seroquel faced generic competition.

Shares in the British drug maker yesterday rose 7p to 2,908p.