Word of the remarkably flush golden parachute prompted sharp criticism from the Free Democrats, a traditionally pro-business Swiss political party, and the Swiss Bishop’s Conference, as well as leading government ministers, the Associated Press noted.
Under the six-year deal, Vasella, who has served as the pharmaceutical giant’s chairman for more than a decade, would have received as much as 12 million francs each year. The company said that the non-compete deal was designed to prevent rivals from poaching Vasella to exploit his intimate knowledge of the company.
In a statement, Vasella conceded that the public found the compensation package “unreasonably high,” but noted that he had planned to give much of it to charity. Vasella announced plans to step down last month.
Shares of Novartis rose fractionally in pre-market trading on Tuesday.