On Nov. 10, the company gave nearly 10 million shares in free stock grants to senior management and directors. The largest single award -- almost 3 million shares -- went to CEO Jim Bianco, according to filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The granting of free stock (the cost basis for the shares was zero) is part of the company's "long-term equity and retention" program, said Cell Therapeutics spokesman Dan Eramian, in an email statement.
With largesse like this, it's a wonder that any of Cell Therapeutics' executives would even think about leaving!At Friday's close of 98 cents, Cell Therapeutics shares are up 600% this year, but the stock is down 50% from its June high due to a number of setbacks and disappointments related to the company's drug pipeline. In August, the FDA refused to grant priority, six-month review to its lymphoma drug pixantrone, while Cell Therapeutics, in September, withdrew its European approval application for the lung cancer drug Opaxio. The company is also still struggling with cash and debt issues. Bianco benefited the most from the new stock grants. He was awarded 2.9 million free shares of Cell Therapeutics stock. After accounting for stock sold to cover taxes, Bianco's take amounted to more than $1.8 million, based on the stock's Nov. 10 closing price. In addition to Bianco, four other top executives were awarded similar free stock grants, as were all six of the company's outside directors.