Nektar boss gets $55K raise and big option grant for 2009 after “transformational year”
“Nektar”, the San Carlos drug developer, “is exceptionally well-positioned as we enter 2009,” said the company’s chief executive, Howard Robin, in an earnings release Tuesday.
Also well positioned is Robin himself, who the day before was given a $55,000 raise in salary to $735,000 for 2009, along with an option good on 525,000 shares priced at $4.65, 25 percent less than Nektar shares were worth the year before, and 68 percent below where they were when Robin took over as CEO in January 2007.
Robin called 2008 “a transformational year” for Nektar. It certainly changed into a smaller company last year, laying off 110 employees, or 19 percent of its staff, in February.
In April, it gave up plans to find another development partner for Exubera, its inhaled insulin product, after its former partner, Pfizer, released data suggesting a possible link between the drug and an increased incidence of lung cancer among patients using it.
Pfizer stopped marketing the drug in October 2007 and paid Nektar a one-time exit fee of $135 million that gave the company its first quarterly profit ever in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The company then resumed its quarterly losses until its final quarter of 2008 when it made a $76.8 million profit thanks to a net gain of $69.6 million selling its inhalation drug delivery technology to Novartis and a $50 million gain from buying back debt at favorable terms.
In its press release Tuesday, Nektar touted improvements it made to its “operating efficiencies” compared to a year ago, saying that for the twelve months ended December 31, 2008, general and administrative expenses were $51.5 million, down 10 percent from the year before.
What it didn’t highlight is that the rate of savings diminished to 2 percent for the fourth quarter period when those expenses came in at $13.8 million compared to $14.2 million in the year before quarter.
The same day that Nektar’s board bestowed its salary increase and fresh stock option grant on Robin, it also gave him a cash bonus of $618,800 for 2008, forty percent above his target.