Times staff writer

Valued Employees: How much are good executives worth these days?

If they are in the fast-growing biotechnology field, quite a lot, according to a survey just released by the Newport Beach office of Coopers & Lybrand , the giant consulting and accounting firm.

Coopers & Lybrand reports that despite suffering from Wall Street jitters, the biotech industry has been generous in issuing compensation packages to executives, at both privately held and publicly held firms. This comes from its Seventh Annual Leadership in Biotechnology survey.

After questioning 127 biotechnology firms around the country, Coopers & Lybrand researchers found that top executives received double-digit salary increases.

For example, the average salary for chief executives in privately held companies--those that are usually still in the start-up phase--rose 14% in a year to an average salary of $129,000.

Their counterparts in publicly held companies saw their average base salaries hiked to $198,000, up 16% from the year before.

The survey also noted that R&D; executives have enjoyed hefty wage increases, even as the biotech industry in general has fallen into disfavor by investors unsure about the effects of impending national health care reform and slowed sales from customers under pressure by cost-conscious insurance carriers.

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