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Former AstraZeneca chief in $3.7-million payout

David Brennan of the U.S. poses at the London headquarters of the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca after his appointment as chief executive designate, October 31, 2005.

MIKE FINN-KELCEY/REUTERS

The former chief executive of AstraZeneca has been awarded a severance package worth a total of £2.4-million ($3.7-million U.S.), following his ousting by angry investors during the recent wave of shareholder discontent.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group on Monday said that David Brennan had received a £915,000 cash payment, as well as shares worth an estimated £1.5-million from a 2010 executive bonus scheme.

AstraZeneca's remuneration committee decided that Mr. Brennan, who was asked by the board to take early retirement following a run of poor results at the drug maker, would forfeit cash and shares from its 2011 and 2012 bonus schemes worth as much as £3.5-million.

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"Mr Brennan informed the remuneration committee that he did not wish to be considered for a bonus in respect of that part of 2012 during which he was chief executive. The committee determined that no such bonus would be awarded," AstraZeneca said.

Mr. Brennan has worked for the group for 36 years, and has built up a pension pot with a transfer value of $23-million, AstraZeneca said.

The former chief executive fell victim to pressure from leading investors, who had agitated for boardroom changes and greater cash returns rather than any new large-scale investment or acquisitions at the FTSE 100 company.

First-quarter results which fell below expectations and concerns about looming patent expiries and price cuts encouraged a group of top shareholders to push Mr. Brennan into his abrupt resignation in April, although he did not officially leave the group until June 1.

Mr. Brennan's resignation was the first of several high profile ejections of chief executives during a period of investor activism, which included the departures of Andrew Moss from Aviva and Sly Bailey of Trinity Mirror.

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