Okarma takes $5M severance deal on his way out of Geron

Thomas Okarma will grab a severance package worth upwards of $1.3 million for his years of service as CEO of Geron, a stem cell therapy developer. The San Francisco Business Times reports that Okarma's package includes severance pay of $802,500, a $401,250 deal to consult for the company and $72,000 to cover office and administrative support.

On the stock front, Okarma has options on 264,169 shares of Geron that will now become exercisable. And there are more shares that will continue to vest as he keeps consulting for the company. Altogether, they have a maximum value of about $4 million, based on Wednesday's closing price.

As CEO, Okarma hung on to win FDA approval to begin the first human study in the U.S. of a stem cell treatment. Analysts said last week that the company appeared eager to shift gears and start nailing development pacts for its programs. And Okarma evidently found himself on the wrong side of an internal debate.

"Clearly there was a difference of opinion as to how the company should move forward," between Okarma and the board, Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ren Benjamin told Bloomberg. "The board wants to take a more strategic focus on partnerships with a keen eye on the cash spend and position."

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