Home » Black executive Kenneth Frazier earns $8.5-million salary from Merck & Co.

Black executive Kenneth Frazier earns $8.5-million salary from Merck & Co.

Frazier's $8.5-million compensation reflects Merck's financial growth and leadership shift in 2022

by Yusuf Abdulfatai
Kenneth Frazier

One of America’s leading Black executives, Kenneth Frazier, the former executive chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., received a total compensation package of $8.5 million from the U.S. pharmaceutical company in 2022.

Frazier, the first African-American CEO of a major pharmaceutical Fortune 500 company before his departure in 2022, received a base salary of $1.15 million. While this represents a 78.6-percent decline from his $15.2-million compensation in 2021, it reflects his transition from CEO to executive chairman in July 2021.

His 2022 package included $2.04 million in variable performance-based pay, reflecting his continued impact on Merck’s financial performance after a 10-year tenure as CEO. He also received a $5-million long-term incentive award, recognizing his dedication and expertise throughout his 30-year career at the company.

Kenneth Frazier’s decade of leadership propels Merck to new heights

Merck & Co., the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant known for blockbuster drugs like Gardasil, surpassed expectations in 2022, reporting a 21.77-percent jump in global sales to $59.3 billion — this surge propelled Merck to 68th on the Fortune 500 list.

Frazier, who led Merck through a successful decade as CEO (2011-2021), played a key role in this upward trajectory. Joining the board in 2011 and assuming chairmanship shortly thereafter, he amplified research investments, sharpened product focus, and delivered impressive returns. He also led philanthropic initiatives that solidified Merck’s 130-year legacy of social responsibility.

Retired yet invested: Frazier’s $75-million stake reinforces continued commitment to Merck

Under Frazier’s leadership, Merck saw a remarkable 84.65-percent profit surge, from $7.08 billion in 2021 to $13.05 billion in 2022. Net income and revenue similarly soared, reaching $14.52 billion and $59.3 billion, respectively, in 2022. Assets also expanded by 3.28 percent, reaching $109.2 billion in the 2022 fiscal year.

Beyond his executive and leadership roles, Frazier retains a personal stake in Merck’s success. Despite retiring, he still owns a 0.028-percent minority stake (705,220 ordinary shares) worth $75.1 million, underscoring his continued commitment to the pharmaceutical giant.

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