Novo Nordisk Executive Compensation: A Picture of Modesty (Except for the Car Expenses)

Last Updated Feb 17, 2009 12:38 PM EST

Novo Nordisk's annual report is out and it contains some interesting stuff on senior management compensation. CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen received total compensation of DKK10.8 million (about $1.8 million).

That was modest compared to his counterparts at American companies. (At Eli Lilly, CEO John Lechleiter got $13 million and Sidney Taurel got a $40 million retirement package. At Wyeth, CEO Bernard Poussot will be walking out with an $18 million takeover windfall.)

The Danes also behave differently when it comes to their share compensation -- they sell it as soon as they get it, according to the annual report. Sorenson recieved 27,234 shares, then sold 27,134, and owned only 920 shares at end of the year. Only COO KÃ¥re Schultz kept a significant block of Novo shares -- 37,846. All other senior executives held less than 1,000 shares at the end of 2008 even though they were all been awarded more 18,000 to 52,000 each.

That's not the only way in which Schultz stands out at Novo. He exercized all his options, whereas the other members of the Novo team mostly left theirs unexercized.

And Schultz's car expenses are three times that of any other exec, the annual report states. He was given DKK900,000 (about About $151,749.34) in "car allowance." In 2007, it was worse. He received DKK1.3 million (about $219,000) in car allowances -- four times any other exec. The annual report notes only: "The total remuneration in 2007 and 2008 is reflecting costs in relation to KÃ¥re Schultz' expatriation to Switzerland."