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Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot is the £90m vaccine hero

Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot scooped £15.4million in pay last year – taking his earnings to almost £90million since he took the reins at the British drug maker nine years ago.

The chief executive’s 2020 package, his biggest yet, is up from £15.3million the previous year.

It comes after his decision to join forces with Oxford University to produce a Covid-19 vaccine made Astra a household name during the pandemic.

Payday: Astrazeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot’s 2020 package, his biggest yet, is up from £15.3million the previous year

Soriot agreed that the jab should be sold for no profit, and is set to be handed a pay rise worth millions this year after complaining he received less than other pharma executives.

The Frenchman, 61, is credited with leading a turnaround that has transformed Astra’s image from laggard to pioneer, with a formidable portfolio of blockbuster drugs.

He saw off a £69billion raid in 2014 by US rival Pfizer, which wanted to buy Astra and use the UK as its headquarters for tax purposes. 

Today, Astra is valued at almost £100billion, after a near-150 per cent rise in its share price since Soriot took over in October 2012.

In that time, the father-of-two, whose family home is in Australia, has been paid £86.9million. 

His package in 2020 included a £1.29million salary, £13.78million in bonuses, benefits worth £121,000 and £258,000 in pension contributions.

The total was 197 times the amount received by a typical Astra employee.

And this year, Astra is proposing to increase Soriot’s salary by 3 per cent to £1.33million, and cut his annual pension contribution from £258,000 to £146,000, bringing it in line with the 11 per cent of pay other company staff can receive.

Hargreaves co-founder to pocket £300million

Hagreaves Lansdown co-founder Peter Hargreaves is set to sell a £300m stake

Hagreaves Lansdown co-founder Peter Hargreaves is set to sell a £300m stake

Hagreaves Lansdown (HL) co-founder Peter Hargreaves is set to sell a £300m stake.

The 74-year-old is planning to offload around 18m shares, taking his holding in the investment platform to around 20 per cent. 

The sale, overseen by Barclays, Numis Securities and Evercore Partners, is expected to complete today.

Hargreaves, who founded the firm in 1981, will still be its largest shareholder ahead of investment firm Lindsell Train, with 14 per cent.

He had never sold any his shares before last year, when he offloaded a chunk worth £550m, but has started slimming down his stake to diversify his investments.

The trading boom prompted by Covid-19 volatility and Britain’s savings stockpile lifted HL profits 10 per cent over the final six months of 2020 to £188.4million.

It now has 1.5m active clients who have invested £120.6billion through it. The average age of new customers slipped from 45 in 2012 to just 37 at the end of last year.

But its shares, down 1 per cent to 1653p, are some way off their all-time high of 2410.9p in 2019. And it is still facing questions over its role in the Woodford savings scandal.

It was one of Neil Woodford’s most influential cheerleaders, recommending his doomed Equity Income fund to its customers right up until its implosion in 2019.

HL has denied being part of the FCA’s probe into the Woodford collapse. But fund management campaigners Gina and Alan Miller wrote to the Treasury Select Committee yesterday expressing their disappointment that the FCA was not examining HL’s role in the crisis, which has cost savers more than £1billion.  

He could still make extra millions however, after Astra’s pay committee recommended increasing the amount he can receive in long-term bonuses from 550 per cent of his salary to 650 per cent. 

That will take the maximum possible size of his performance-related awards from £7.1million to £8.6million in 2021.

And the amount he can receive in annual bonuses will also rise from 200 per cent of his salary to 250 per cent, taking the maximum payout from £2.6million to £3.3million.

Soriot’s pay has been controversial, with shareholders revolting against his packages at the 2014, 2017 and 2018 annual general meetings.

He has argued he is underpaid compared to rivals. The bosses of US giant Johnson & Johnson and French rival Sanofi have been paid £18.2million and £6million respectively in recent years, while the bosses of biotech firms such as United Therapeutics have earned as much as £33million a year.

Emma Walmsley, boss of Astra’s arch-rival Glaxosmithkline, received £8.4million in 2019. ‘The truth is I’m the lowest-paid chief executive in the whole industry,’ Soriot has said. ‘It is annoying to some extent. But at the end of the day, it is what it is.

‘I’m not going to complain, but me and Emma are the lowest-paid in Europe and the US.’

Astra was temporarily rocked by rumours that Soriot could be on the way out in 2017, for Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals. 

John Rountree, managing partner at pharma consultancy firm Novasecta, yesterday said the chief executive could still be in the crosshairs of rivals hoping to poach his talents.

He said: ‘Clearly, the company has thousands of employees and this is not all just down to one man, but if you look at the transformation over the past nine years, there are not many other chief executives who can say they have done that.

‘So he has done a good job and I suspect he must be in demand. I am sure there are other pharma firms that would like to transform and grow as Astra has done.’

In its annual report, pay committee chairman Michel Demare hinted Soriot’s pay package had been increased with an eye on competitors. He said: ‘Global competition for talent in the industry has increased as the world focuses on healthcare.’

Dunelm son scoops £192m

The son of the founders of Dunelm has sold £192million of shares after the furniture seller became a lockdown winner.

Deputy chairman Will Adderley, 48, offloaded a 7.4 per cent stake, or 15m shares, for 1280p each. But he and his wife Nadine still hold a 37.8 per cent stake which was worth just over £1billion. The homeware and furniture giant said Adderley ‘remains fully committed’, with insiders adding the family was diversifying its personal assets.

The family pledged not to offload any more shares for 90 days, but their price fell 6.8 per cent, or 96p, to 1312p. Adderley’s parents Bill and Jean, who founded the business in 1979 as a market stall opened their first store in 1984 and handed over the reins to their son in 1996. Dunelm’s market capitalisation has almost doubled to £2.85billion since last March. It turned over £719million in the six months to Decemebr 31, increasing sales 23 per cent despite the impact of store closures.

Glencore boss checks out with £104m 

Outgoing Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg has bagged a £104million dividend after the company’s earnings soared on a post-Covid commodities boom.

He has received £1billion since he took the commodities trader and miner public in 2011. 

The 64-year-old South African is the company’s second-largest shareholder with a 9.1 per cent stake, worth £3.5billion.

His huge holding means he is in line for mammoth dividends each year depending on performance and he has a total wealth of £4billion, according to Forbes. 

Glencore reinstated its dividend and pledged to pay investors £1.2billion as commodity prices boomed amid China’s economic recovery and US President Joe Biden’s stimulus plans.

It is the last dividend Glasenberg will get as chief executive – he plans to hand over to Glencore coal boss, Gary Nagle.

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