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Soon-To-Be-Ex-CEO Unloved at Pfizer, but Millions of Dollars Will Ease His Pain

Pfizer (PFE) CEO Jeff Kindler leaves his job with one of the lowest approval ratings any drug CEO received from their employees, according to a user survey by Glassdoor, the careers web site. He will have to comfort himself with the wheelbarrow full of cash the company gave him as a retirement gift.

Only 39 percent of those who took the poll approved of the job he was doing at the time he resigned. 61 percent disapproved:

Former Novartis (NVS) CEO Daniel Vasella is the most popular among the five pharmaceutical companies ranked by Glassdoor users. 81 percent of his workers liked the job he was doing. (Vasella stepped down earlier this year, as did Merck (MRK)'s Dick Clark.)

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) CEO William Weldon got a 60 percent approval rating despite the ongoing disaster at his McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit, which has recalled Tylenol and other household brands 11 times, losing the company millions.

Although Kindler left the company with key strategic goals unmet and the stock price in tatters, he was handsomely rewarded for going away. Oddly, the press can't agree on how big his golden parachute is. Bloomberg says it's $9.6 million. Dow Jones said it was $16.5 million. But if you look at Pfizer's filing with the SEC, it seems to be much more. It includes:

  • Kindler's retirement package
  • 2010 Bonus: $3,252,500
  • 2010 short-term incentive award: $1,800,000
  • Severance: $4,510,500
  • Performance share awards: 266,576 shares. The value of these will fluctuate before they vest in 2011, and depending on performance goals and will be settled within "a payment range of 0% to 200%." Let's assume the stock is at $16 (it's currently higher than that) and settles at 100 percent. That could be a $4,265,160 payout.
  • Total shareholder return units: 1,713,759 units "settled in shares of Pfizer stock with a value equal to the change in the market price of a share of Pfizer stock, plus the value of dividends accumulated, over the five-year performance period if and to the extent that this is a positive amount at the time of settlement." As Kindler cut a third off the price of PFE during his reign, this payout ought to be minimal or zero.
  • Stock options: None.
  • Retirement benefit: $6.9 million.
  • Total: ~$20.7 million
My back-of-the-envelope math shows Kindler will walk off with a package worth about $20.7 million. OK, so he's unpopular with his underlings. But he'll be crying all the way to the bank.


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