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Bayer justifies Brandicourt’s ‘golden handshake’

Published on 27/02/15 at 11:05am
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Bayer chief executive Dr Marijn Dekkers says the payout for the new Sanofi boss is in line with what Bayer paid him

Bayer has confirmed that Sanofi’s justification for the controversial starter package it is giving to the German firm’s Olivier Brandicourt is correct.

Brandicourt, who is leaving his position as head of Bayer’s healthcare division to become chief executive of Sanofi, will receive a ‘golden handshake’ of around $4.5 million from the French company, due when he starts the job in April.

Sanofi’s justification for this high amount is that it is equivalent to the benefits Brandicourt would have received at Bayer over this time – and at a Bayer financial results conference yesterday, its chief executive Dr Marijn Dekkers confirmed that this was indeed correct when quizzed.

The French government, which has set limits on executive pay, has harshly criticised the compensation package.

“Some self-discipline is needed,” government minister Segolene Royal told a French TV news channel. “Drugs are reimbursed by taxpayers, so it’s all of the French people who pay into the health system and reimburse drugs who are going to pay the golden handshake.”

Brandicourt’s impact

At the conference, Dekkers was also asked whether Brandicourt’s departure after only 15 months at Bayer would have any effect on the firm’s plans to become a pure life sciences company – which Brandicourt was a key part of.

“He has certainly influenced our thinking and made some very good contributions here in the last 15 months, but of course it was a relatively short time to have a significant impact in a business that has such a long-term flow to it.”

Dekkers was humble about the departure, though: “We were very pleased to be able to recruit Mr Brandicourt 15 months ago from Pfizer. He came with a tremendous track record, and we’re also very sad to see him leave.

“But on the other hand, when somebody gets an opportunity to run a company like Sanofi as the CEO, that is an opportunity that doesn’t just come by every day for people in our profession. So we wish him very well at Sanofi.”

Brandicourt will replace Sanofi’s previous chief executive Christopher Viehbacher, who was ousted from the company in October last year following conflicts with the board of management and amid a lack of growth in its diabetes business. He is due to start in April.

The salary of another pharma chief executive, GSK’s Andrew Witty, has also been in the spotlight recently. His compensation has been reduced from £7.2 million to £3.9 million and his bonus cut by 51% following the company’s disappointing 2014 financial results.

George Underwood

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