Business

Novartis chief drops $78m payout

BERLIN — Swiss drug maker Novartis AG has agreed with its outgoing chairman to scrap plans for a farewell noncompete deal that could have netted him up to $78 million.

The announcement followed criticism from some of the company’s shareholders and politicians.

Daniel Vasella, 59, who is retiring this month, said Tuesday that he and the company agreed to forgo a ‘‘noncompete’’ payout that many people found ‘‘unreasonably high.’’

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‘‘I have understood that many people in Switzerland find the amount of the compensation linked to the noncompete agreement unreasonably high, despite the fact I had announced my intention to make the net amount available for philanthropic activities,’’ Vasella said in a statement.

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News of the deal, under which Vasella would have earned up to $13 million a year for six years — almost the equivalent of his current basic salary — for not advising Novartis’s competitors over the coming years, emerged last week. It was met with a scathing response in Switzerland, where executive pay has become a sensitive issue recently.

Novartis has major operations in Cambridge, Mass.