DEF 14A 1 nc10001158x1_def14a.htm DEF 14A

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

SCHEDULE 14A

Proxy Statement Pursuant to Section 14(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Amendment No.  )

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Definitive Proxy Statement
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Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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IONIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
2855 Gazelle Court
Carlsbad, CA 92010

NOTICE OF 2019 ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS

Dear Stockholders,

I am pleased to invite you to Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. We will host the meeting at our offices in Carlsbad, California on Thursday, June 6, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. This booklet includes the agenda for this year’s Annual Meeting and the Proxy Statement. We will cover the formal items on the agenda during the Annual Meeting. Following the formal Annual Meeting, we will review the major developments of the past year and our plans for 2019 and answer your questions. The Proxy Statement explains the matters we will discuss in the meeting and provides additional information about us.

Your vote is very important. Whether or not you plan to attend the meeting, please be sure to vote your shares as soon as possible to ensure your representation at the meeting. We are distributing our proxy materials under a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that allows us to furnish proxy materials to our stockholders over the Internet rather than in paper form. We believe this method of distribution reduces our environmental impact and costs without hindering our stockholders’ timely access to such important material. As a result, if you are a stockholder of record (that is, if your stock is registered with us in your own name) you will receive a Notice Regarding the Availability of Proxy Materials in the mail, which contains instructions on how to access our proxy materials and vote electronically through the Internet or to request printed proxy materials so you may vote by telephone or mail.

If your shares are registered in the name of a broker or other nominee, that nominee will forward the Notice Regarding the Availability of Proxy Materials to you and you can direct that nominee to vote your shares. Alternatively, if your nominee participates in a program provided through Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. that allows you to vote by telephone or through the Internet, your nominee will send you a voting form with telephone and Internet voting instructions.

If you plan to attend the meeting and prefer to vote in person, you may still do so even if you have already returned your proxy.

PLEASE NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT IF A BROKER, BANK OR OTHER NOMINEE HOLDS YOUR SHARES OF RECORD AND YOU WISH TO VOTE AT THE MEETING, YOU MUST OBTAIN A PROXY ISSUED IN YOUR NAME FROM THE BROKER, BANK OR OTHER NOMINEE.

In this document, unless the context requires otherwise, the words “Ionis,” “Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer only to Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its subsidiaries and not to any other person or entity.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Sincerely,
   

Patrick R. O’Neil
Corporate Secretary

IONIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
2855 Gazelle Court
Carlsbad, CA 92010

NOTICE OF 2019 ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS

Date:
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Time:
2:00 p.m., Pacific Time
Place:
Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
2855 Gazelle Court
Carlsbad, CA 92010

Dear Stockholders,

At our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, we will ask you to:

Proposal 1:
elect Stanley T. Crooke, Joseph Klein, III, Joseph Loscalzo and Michael Hayden to serve as Directors for a three-year term;
Proposal 2:
make an advisory vote, ratifying the appointment of Peter N. Reikes to fill a vacancy on our Board of Directors for a two-year term;
Proposal 3:
make an advisory vote, ratifying the appointment of Brett Monia to fill a vacancy on our Board of Directors for a two-year term;
Proposal 4:
approve an amendment and restatement of the Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2011 Equity Incentive Plan to, among other things, increase the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Equity Incentive Plan by 7,000,000 to an aggregate of 23,000,000 shares;
Proposal 5:
make an advisory vote on executive compensation; and
Proposal 6:
ratify the Audit Committee’s selection of Ernst & Young LLP as independent auditors for our 2019 fiscal year.
Transact any other business that may be properly presented at the Annual Meeting.

The foregoing items of business are more fully described in the enclosed Proxy Statement. If you were an Ionis stockholder of record at the close of business on April 8, 2019 you may vote at the Annual Meeting.

By order of the Board of Directors,
   

Patrick R. O’Neil
Corporate Secretary

Carlsbad, California
April 26, 2019

ALL STOCKHOLDERS ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO ATTEND THE MEETING IN PERSON. WHETHER OR NOT YOU EXPECT TO ATTEND THE MEETING, PLEASE VOTE BY TELEPHONE OR INTERNET BY FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS INCLUDED IN THIS PROXY STATEMENT AND YOUR NOTICE REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF PROXY MATERIALS OR PROXY CARD. ALTERNATIVELY, YOU MAY REQUEST A WRITTEN PROXY STATEMENT, AND COMPLETE, DATE, SIGN AND RETURN YOUR PROXY AS PROMPTLY AS POSSIBLE TO ENSURE YOUR REPRESENTATION AT THE MEETING. IF YOU RECEIVE YOUR PROXY MATERIALS BY MAIL, WE WILL INCLUDE A RETURN ENVELOPE (WHICH IS POSTAGE PREPAID IF MAILED IN THE UNITED STATES) FOR THAT PURPOSE. EVEN IF YOU HAVE GIVEN YOUR PROXY, YOU MAY STILL VOTE IN PERSON IF YOU ATTEND THE MEETING. PLEASE NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT IF YOUR SHARES ARE HELD OF RECORD BY A BROKER, BANK OR OTHER NOMINEE AND YOU WISH TO VOTE AT THE MEETING, YOU MUST OBTAIN FROM THE BROKER, BANK OR OTHER NOMINEE A PROXY ISSUED IN YOUR NAME.

IONIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
2855 Gazelle Court
Carlsbad, CA 92010

PROXY STATEMENT

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THESE PROXY MATERIALS AND VOTING

Why did I receive a Notice Regarding the Availability of Proxy Materials on the Internet?

Ionis’ Board of Directors (the “Board”) is soliciting your proxy to vote at the 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, including at any adjournments or postponements of the meeting. We are distributing our Notice of Annual Meeting and Proxy Materials (the “Notice”) by mail using the Notice and Access procedures established by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). The Notice is important because it contains a control number and instructions that will allow you to access our proxy materials and vote electronically through the Internet or to request printed proxy materials so you may vote by telephone or mail. Your vote is very important. Whether or not you plan to attend the meeting, please be sure to vote your shares as soon as possible to ensure your representation at the meeting. All stockholders will have the ability to access the proxy materials on the website referred to in the Notice or request to receive a printed set of the proxy materials. You can find instructions on how to access the proxy materials over the Internet or to request a printed copy in the Notice.

We intend to mail the Notice on or before April 26, 2019 to all stockholders of record entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting.

Will I receive any other proxy materials by mail?

We may choose to send you a proxy card, along with a second Notice, on or after May 6, 2019.

Where and when is the Annual Meeting and how do I attend?

We will hold the meeting on Thursday, June 6, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time at our offices located at 2855 Gazelle Court, Carlsbad, California 92010. You may find directions to the Annual Meeting at www.ionispharma.com.1 We discuss information on how to vote in person at the Annual Meeting below.

If you cannot attend, please note that we will make a webcast of the presentation that follows the Annual Meeting available on the day of the meeting and for a limited time following the meeting at www.ionispharma.com.1

If you plan to attend the meeting and prefer to vote in person, you may still do so even if you have already returned your proxy.

Who can vote at the Annual Meeting?

Only stockholders of record at the close of business on April 8, 2019 may vote at the Annual Meeting. On this record date, there were 139,761,137 shares of common stock outstanding and entitled to vote.

Stockholder of Record: Shares Registered in Your Name

If on April 8, 2019 your shares were registered directly in your name with our transfer agent, American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, then you are a stockholder of record. As a stockholder of record, you may vote in person at the meeting or vote by proxy over the telephone, by mail, or the Internet as instructed under the section below titled “How do I vote?” Whether or not you plan to attend the meeting, we urge you to fill out and return the proxy card or vote over the telephone or Internet to ensure your vote is counted.

Beneficial Owner: Shares Registered in the Name of a Broker or Bank

If on April 8, 2019 you did not own shares in your name, but rather in an account at a brokerage firm, bank, dealer or other similar organization, then you are the beneficial owner of shares held in “street name” and that organization is forwarding the Notice to you. The organization holding your account is the stockholder of

1Any information that is included on or linked to our website is not part of this Proxy Statement or any registration statement or report that incorporates this Proxy Statement by reference

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record for purposes of voting at the Annual Meeting. As a beneficial owner, you may direct your broker or other agent regarding how to vote the shares in your account. If your shares are registered in the name of a broker or other nominee, your nominee may be participating in a program provided through Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (“Broadridge”) that also allows you to vote by telephone or through the Internet. If so, the voting form your nominee sends you will provide telephone and Internet instructions. You are also invited to attend the Annual Meeting in person.

PLEASE NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT IF A BROKER, BANK OR OTHER NOMINEE HOLDS YOUR SHARES OF RECORD AND YOU WISH TO VOTE AT THE MEETING, YOU MUST OBTAIN A PROXY ISSUED IN YOUR NAME FROM THE BROKER, BANK OR OTHER NOMINEE.

What am I voting on?

The following matters are scheduled for a vote:

Proposal 1:
elect Stanley T. Crooke, Joseph Klein, III, Joseph Loscalzo and Michael Hayden to serve as Directors for a three-year term;
Proposal 2:
make an advisory vote, ratifying the appointment of Peter N. Reikes to fill a vacancy on our Board of Directors for a two-year term;
Proposal 3:
make an advisory vote, ratifying the appointment of Brett Monia to fill a vacancy on our Board of Directors for a two-year term;
Proposal 4:
approve an amendment and restatement of the Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2011 Equity Incentive Plan to, among other things, increase the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the Equity Incentive Plan by 7,000,000 to an aggregate of 23,000,000 shares;
Proposal 5:
make an advisory vote on executive compensation; and
Proposal 6:
ratify the Audit Committee’s selection of Ernst & Young LLP as independent auditors for our 2019 fiscal year.

What if another matter is properly brought before the meeting?

The Board knows of no other matters that will be presented for consideration at the Annual Meeting. If any other matters are properly brought before the meeting, the persons named in the accompanying proxy intend to vote on those matters in accordance with their best judgment.

How do I vote?

You may vote in one of the following ways:

vote through the Internet by following the instructions included with your Notice or proxy card;
vote by telephone by following the instructions included with your proxy card if you have received proxy materials electronically or by mail;
vote by mail by completing, signing, dating and returning your proxy card in the postage paid envelope provided; or
vote in person by attending the Annual Meeting.

The procedures for voting are fairly simple:

For Shares Registered in Your Name:

If you are a stockholder of record, you may go to www.proxyvote.com to vote your shares through the Internet up until 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time on June 5, 2019. The votes represented by your proxy will be displayed on the computer screen and you will be prompted to submit or revise your votes as desired.

To vote your shares by telephone, you must first request that we send proxy materials to you by following the instructions included in your Notice. Once you have received your proxy materials, you may vote using a touch-tone telephone by calling 1-800-690-6903 up until 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time on June 5, 2019 and following the recorded instructions. Please have your proxy card available at the time you vote.

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To vote using the proxy card, simply complete, sign and date the proxy card that may be delivered to you and return it promptly in the envelope provided. If you return your signed proxy card to us before the Annual Meeting, we will vote your shares as you direct.

For Shares Registered in the Name of a Broker or Bank:

If your broker or bank holds your shares in “street name,” you will need to obtain a proxy form from the institution that holds your shares and follow the instructions included on that form regarding how to instruct your broker to vote your shares. If you do not give instructions to your broker, your broker can vote your shares with respect to “discretionary” items, but not with respect to “non-discretionary” items. Discretionary items are proposals considered routine under the rules of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on which a broker may vote shares held in street name in the absence of your voting instructions. While Ionis is listed with the Nasdaq Stock Market (Nasdaq), NYSE rules affect how brokers licensed by the NYSE can vote in a director election of any company, including companies listed with Nasdaq. The proposal to ratify Ernst & Young LLP as independent auditors is a discretionary item. Proposals 1-5 regarding (1) the election of Directors, (2-3) ratification, on an advisory basis, of the appointment of Mr. Reikes and Dr. Monia to fill vacancies on the Board, (4) approval of an amendment and restatement of our 2011 Equity Incentive Plan to, among other things, increase the aggregate number of shares authorized for issuance under the 2011 Equity Incentive Plan, and (5) approval, on an advisory basis, of our executive compensation, are non-discretionary items. If you do not give your broker instructions for a non-discretionary item, the inspector of elections will treat your shares as broker non-votes.

A number of brokers and banks are participating in a program provided by Broadridge which allows proxies to vote shares by means of the telephone and Internet. If your shares are held in an account with a broker or bank participating in the Broadridge program, you may vote your shares by telephone or through the Internet by having the voting form in hand and calling the number or going to the website indicated on the form and following the instructions.

What if I return a proxy card or otherwise vote but do not make specific choices?

If you return a signed and dated proxy card or otherwise vote without marking voting selections, one of the individuals named on your proxy card will vote your shares as follows:

“For” the election of the nominees for Director named in the Proxy Statement;
“For” the ratification, on an advisory basis, of the appointment of Mr. Reikes to fill a vacancy on our Board for a two-year term;
“For” the ratification, on an advisory basis, of the appointment of Dr. Monia to fill a vacancy on our Board for a two-year term;
“For” the approval of an amendment and restatement of the 2011 Equity Incentive Plan to, among other things, increase the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Equity Incentive Plan;
“For” the approval, on an advisory basis, of executive compensation; and
“For” the ratification of the Audit Committee’s selection of Ernst & Young LLP as independent auditors for our 2019 fiscal year.

If any other matter is properly presented at the meeting, one of the individuals named on your proxy card will vote your shares using his or her best judgment.

Who is paying for this proxy solicitation?

Our Board is soliciting your proxy to vote at the Annual Meeting. We will bear the entire cost of soliciting proxies, including preparing, assembling, making available on the Internet and printing and mailing this Proxy Statement, the proxy card and any additional information furnished to stockholders. We will furnish copies of solicitation materials to banks, brokerage houses, fiduciaries and custodians holding our common stock in “street name” on behalf of beneficial owners of such shares. We may reimburse persons representing beneficial owners of our common stock for their costs of forwarding solicitation materials to such beneficial owners. Our Directors, officers or other employees may supplement original solicitation of proxies by telephone, electronic mail or personal solicitation. We will not pay our Directors, officers or employees any additional compensation for soliciting proxies. However, please be aware that you must bear any costs associated with your Internet service, such as usage charges from Internet access providers or telephone companies.

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What does it mean if I receive more than one Notice?

If you receive more than one Notice or proxy card, your shares are registered in more than one name or are registered in different accounts. Please complete, sign, date and return each separate proxy card or vote by telephone or through the Internet by following the instructions included with each Notice or proxy card to properly vote your shares.

Can I change my vote after submitting my proxy?

Yes. Once you have submitted your proxy by mail, Internet or telephone, you may revoke it at any time before we exercise it at the Annual Meeting. You may revoke your proxy by any one of the following four ways:

you may mail another proxy marked with a later date;
you may revoke it through the Internet;
you may notify our corporate secretary in writing sent to 2855 Gazelle Court, Carlsbad, California 92010 that you wish to revoke your proxy before the Annual Meeting takes place; or
you may vote in person at the Annual Meeting. Attendance at the meeting will not, by itself, revoke a proxy.

When are stockholder proposals due for next year’s Annual Meeting?

If you have a proposal that you would like us to include in our Proxy Statement and form of proxy for, or to present at the 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, you must send the proposal to us by no later than December 28, 2019. Stockholders wishing to submit proposals or Director nominations that are not to be included in such Proxy Statement and form of proxy must do so no later than the close of business on February 7, 2020. Stockholders should also review our bylaws, which contain additional requirements with respect to advance notice of stockholder proposals and Director nominations.

What is the quorum requirement?

A quorum of stockholders is necessary to hold a valid meeting. A quorum will be present at the meeting if at least a majority of the outstanding shares are represented in person or by proxy. We will count your shares towards the quorum only if you submit a valid proxy vote or vote at the meeting. We will count abstentions and broker non-votes towards the quorum requirement.

If there is no quorum, the holders of a majority of shares present at the meeting in person or represented by proxy may adjourn the meeting to another date.

How are votes counted?

Each share of our common stock you own entitles you to one vote. Your Notice and proxy card indicates the number of shares of our common stock you owned at the close of business on April 8, 2019. The inspector of elections will count votes for the meeting and will separately count “For” and “Against” votes, abstentions, and broker non-votes. With respect to Proposal 1, the election of Directors, stockholders do not affirmatively vote “Against” nominees. Instead, if you do not want to elect a particular nominee, you should choose to “Withhold” a vote in favor of the applicable nominee for Director and the inspector of elections will count each “Withhold” for each nominee. Abstentions will have no effect on Proposal 1. Abstentions will count towards the vote total for Proposals 2 through 6, and in each case, will have the same effect as “Against” votes. Broker non-votes have no effect and the inspector of elections will not count them towards the vote total for any proposal.

What are “broker non-votes”?

Broker non-votes occur when a beneficial owner of shares held in “street name” does not give instructions to the broker or nominee holding the shares as to how to vote on matters deemed “non-routine.” If your broker holds your shares in “street name,” and you do not give instructions to your broker, your broker can vote your shares with respect to “discretionary” items, but not with respect to “non-discretionary” items. The proposal to ratify Ernst & Young LLP as independent auditors is a discretionary item. Proposals 1-5 regarding (1) the election of Directors, (2-3) ratification, on an advisory basis, of the appointment of Mr. Reikes and Dr. Monia to

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fill vacancies on the Board, (4) approval of an amendment and restatement of our 2011 Equity Incentive Plan to, among other things, increase the aggregate number of shares authorized for issuance under the 2011 Equity Incentive Plan and (5) approval, on an advisory basis, of our executive compensation, are non-discretionary items. If you do not give your broker instructions for a non-discretionary item, the inspector of elections will treat your unvoted shares as broker non-votes.

How many votes are needed to approve each proposal?

Proposal 1: For the election of Directors in an uncontested election, a Director nominee must receive a majority of the votes cast in person or by proxy in the election such that the number of shares voted “For” the nominee must exceed 50% of the votes cast with respect to that Director. Only “For” and “Withhold” votes will affect the outcome. Abstentions and broker non-votes will have no effect.
Proposal 2: We will consider the advisory vote on the ratification of the appointment of Mr. Reikes to fill a vacancy on the Board to be approved if such ratification receives “For” votes from the holders of a majority of shares present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote on the matter. If you “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as an “Against” vote. Broker non-votes will have no effect.
Proposal 3: We will consider the advisory vote on the ratification of the appointment of Dr. Monia to fill a vacancy on the Board to be approved if such ratification receives “For” votes from the holders of a majority of shares present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote on the matter. If you “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as an “Against” vote. Broker non-votes will have no effect.
Proposal 4: To be approved, the amendment and restatement of the 2011 Equity Incentive Plan must receive “For” votes from the holders of a majority of shares present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote on the matter. If you “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as an “Against” vote. Broker non-votes will have no effect.
Proposal 5: We will consider the advisory approval of the compensation of our executive officers to be approved if it receives “For” votes from the holders of a majority of shares present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote on the matter. If you “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as an “Against” vote. Broker non-votes will have no effect.
Proposal 6: To be approved, the ratification of the selection of Ernst & Young LLP as our independent auditors for our 2019 fiscal year must receive “For” votes from the holders of a majority of shares present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote on the matter. If you “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as an “Against” vote.

How can I find out the results of the voting at the Annual Meeting?

We will announce preliminary voting results at the Annual Meeting. In addition, we will publish final voting results in a current report on Form 8-K that we expect to file within four business days after the Annual Meeting. If final voting results are not available to us in time to file as part of a Form 8-K within four business days after the Annual Meeting, we intend to file a Form 8-K to publish preliminary results and, within four business days after we know the final results, file an additional Form 8-K to publish final results.

How can I elect to receive materials for future Annual Meetings electronically?

We are pleased to offer to our stockholders the benefits and convenience of electronic delivery of Annual Meeting materials, including:

delivering the Proxy Statement, Annual Report on Form 10-K, and related materials by email to our stockholders;
stockholder voting online;
helping the environment by decreasing the use of paper documents;
reducing the amount of bulky documents stockholders receive; and
reducing our printing and mailing costs associated with more traditional delivery methods.

We encourage you to conserve natural resources and to reduce printing and mailing costs by signing up for electronic delivery of our stockholder communications after you place your current vote at www.proxyvote.com.

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PROPOSAL 1

ELECTION OF DIRECTORS

Information about our Board

The Board is divided into three classes. Presently, the Board has eleven members with two classes consisting of four Directors each and one class consisting of three Directors. Each class serves a three-year term and we hold elections each year at the Annual Meeting to elect the Directors whose terms are expiring.

In addition, the Board may elect a new Director to fill any vacant spot, including a vacancy caused by an increase in the size of the Board, such as the case with Drs. Hayden, Monia and Mr. Reikes. However, the Board believes it is important for our stockholders to ratify any member of the Board whom the Board appoints. As a result, whenever the Board appoints a new member, the Board will submit such new member’s directorship for ratification at the next regularly scheduled Annual Meeting of Stockholders.

The Board represents the interests of our stockholders by overseeing the Chief Executive Officer and other members of senior management in our operation. The Board’s goal is to optimize long-term value by providing guidance and strategic oversight to Ionis’ management on our stockholders’ behalf.

Information about the 2019 Elections

The Board has nominated four individuals for election at the Annual Meeting. Each of the nominees currently serves as one of our Directors. Dr. Crooke, Mr. Klein, Dr. Loscalzo and Dr. Hayden have each served as a Director for the periods set forth in the table below.

Name
Commencement of Ionis Directorship
Stanley T. Crooke
January 1989
Joseph Klein, III
December 2005
Joseph Loscalzo
February 2014
Michael Hayden
September 2018

Dr. Crooke, Mr. Klein and Dr. Loscalzo have been re-elected by our stockholders each successive term. This is the first time Dr. Hayden is a nominee for election by our stockholders. If re-elected or elected, as applicable, Dr. Crooke, Mr. Klein, Dr. Loscalzo and Dr. Hayden will serve until the 2022 Annual Meeting or, in each case, until his successor is elected and has qualified, or until his earlier death, resignation or removal.

Our bylaws provide a majority vote standard for the election of directors in uncontested elections. In an uncontested election, the majority vote standard means that to be elected, a Director nominee must receive a majority of the votes cast in the election such that the number of shares voted “For” the nominee must exceed 50% of the votes cast with respect to that Director. The number of votes cast with respect to a Director’s election excludes abstentions and broker non-votes. In contested elections where the number of nominees exceeds the number of Directors to be elected, the vote standard will be a plurality of the shares present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote.

If a nominee who already serves as a Director is not elected, and no successor is elected, the Director will offer to tender his resignation to the Board. The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee will make a recommendation to the Board on whether to accept or reject the resignation, or whether to take other action. The Board will act on the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee’s recommendation and publicly disclose its decision and the rationale behind it within 90 days from the date of the certification of the election results. The Director who tenders his or her resignation will not participate in the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee or in the Board’s decision. If a nominee’s failure to be elected at the Annual Meeting results in a vacancy on the Board, then the Board can fill the vacancy.

The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee delivered its report to the Board on March 22, 2019. Following that report, the Board determined it would be in the best interests of Ionis and its stockholders to nominate Dr. Crooke, Mr. Klein, Dr. Loscalzo and Dr. Hayden to be elected as Directors at the Annual Meeting. We provide below a short biography for each nominee. Dr. Crooke, Mr. Klein, Dr. Loscalzo and Dr. Hayden

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have agreed to serve if elected, and we have no reason to believe that they cannot serve. However, if they cannot serve, we may vote your proxy for another nominee proposed by the Board, or the Board may reduce the number of authorized Directors.

Biographies of the Nominees for Election for a Three-Year Term Expiring at the 2022 Annual Meeting

Stanley T. Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., age 73,2 is a founder of Ionis and has been Chief Executive Officer and a Director since January 1989. He was elected Chairman of the Board in February 1991. Prior to founding Ionis, from 1980 until January 1989, Dr. Crooke worked for SmithKline Beckman Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, where his titles included President of Research and Development of SmithKline and French Laboratories. Dr. Crooke formerly served on the board of directors of Akcea Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company.

The Board believes that Dr. Crooke is uniquely suited to serve on the Board primarily because, as the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Ionis, he has dedicated over 30 years to discovering and developing antisense, our technology platform. He is the named inventor on some of the key patents in the field of RNA-targeted therapeutics and has nearly 40 years of drug discovery and development experience.

Joseph Klein, III, age 57, has served as a Director of Ionis since December 2005. Mr. Klein is currently Managing Director of Gauss Capital Advisors, LLC, a financial consulting and investment advisory firm focused on biopharmaceuticals, which he founded in March 1998. From September 2003 to December 2008, Mr. Klein also served as a Venture Partner of Red Abbey Venture Partners, L.P., a life science private equity fund. From September 2001 to September 2002, Mr. Klein was a Venture Partner of MPM Capital, a healthcare venture capital firm. From June 1999 to September 2000 when it merged with WebMD Corporation, Mr. Klein served as Vice President, Strategy, for Medical Manager Corporation, a leading developer of physician office management information systems. For over nine years from 1989 to 1998, Mr. Klein was a health care investment analyst at T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., where he was the founding portfolio manager of the T. Rowe Price Health Sciences Fund, Inc. Mr. Klein serves on the board of directors of The Prospector Funds, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Company that manages two no-load mutual funds. Mr. Klein also serves on the boards of private and non-profit entities.

The Board believes that Mr. Klein is uniquely suited to serve on the Board and as chairman of the Audit Committee because he is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has extensive public company, venture investment, board, and financial advisory expertise in the life sciences industry, including previously serving as Chairman of the Audit Committee at several public biopharmaceutical companies.

Joseph Loscalzo, M.D., Ph.D., age 67, has served as a Director of Ionis since February 2014. Dr. Loscalzo is Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the Department of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Loscalzo received his A.B. degree, summa cum laude, his Ph.D. in biochemistry, and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his clinical training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he served as Resident and Chief Resident in medicine and Fellow in cardiovascular medicine. Post-training, Dr. Loscalzo joined the Harvard faculty and staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1984. He rose to the rank of Associate Professor of Medicine, Chief of Cardiology at the West Roxbury Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Director of the Center for Research in Thrombolysis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He joined the faculty of Boston University in 1994, first as Chief of Cardiology and, in 1997, Wade Professor and Chair of Medicine, Professor of Biochemistry, and Director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. He returned to Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2005. He currently serves on the board of directors of Leap Therapeutics, Inc., a publicly held biopharmaceutical company.

The Board believes that Dr. Loscalzo is uniquely suited to serve on the Board primarily because of his extensive scientific expertise, including 28 years of research in the areas of vascular biology, thrombosis, and atherosclerosis, and practical knowledge as a practicing physician. Dr. Loscalzo’s expertise and role as a leading cardiologist is particularly valuable as we advance and grow our cardiovascular franchise.

Michael Hayden, CM, OBC, MB, ChB, Ph.D., FRCP(C), FRSC, age 67, has served as a Director of Ionis since September 2018. Dr. Hayden is a Killam Professor at the University of British Columbia and the Director of the Translational Laboratory in Genetic Medicine at the National University of Singapore and the Agency for

2All ages of our Directors provided under this Proposal 1 are as of March 1, 2019.

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Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). From 2012 to 2017, he served as the President of Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Dr. Hayden has founded three biotechnology companies and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious honors and awards, including being inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, receiving the July 2012 Diamond Jubilee Medal, on behalf of HRH Queen Elisabeth II and the Margolese National Brain Disorder Prize, awarded to Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to the treatment, amelioration or cure of brain diseases. He has also received the Canada Gairdner Wightman award for his outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science as a physician-scientist. Dr. Hayden was awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, named Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and has received the Prix Galien Award for his contribution to Canadian pharmaceutical research. Dr. Hayden currently serves on the board of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals and Xenon Pharmaceuticals, publicly held biopharmaceutical companies.

The Board believes that Dr. Hayden is uniquely suited to serve on the Board because he has significant expertise in pharmaceutical research and development, both in academia and in commercial settings. In addition, Dr. Hayden has made substantial research contributions to advance treatments for brain diseases, which is particularly valuable as we grow our neurology franchise.

THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE “FOR” THE ELECTION OF THE ABOVE NOMINEES.

Biographies of the Directors Whose Terms Expire at the 2020 Annual Meeting

Spencer R. Berthelsen, M.D., age 66, has served as a Director of Ionis since May 2002. Since 1980, he has practiced Internal Medicine with the Kelsey Seybold Clinic, a 400-physician medical group based in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Dr. Berthelsen has served in various senior leadership positions at Kelsey Seybold, including Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Director and Managing Director. He served as Chairman of their Board of Directors from October 2001 through April 2016. He has served as a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston. Dr. Berthelsen served on the board of the Texas Academy of Internal Medicine in the past and the Caremark National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee from 1999 through 2005.

The Board believes Dr. Berthelsen is uniquely suited to serve on the Board because of his experience advising a large multi-specialty group practice and 38 years of experience as a practicing physician.

B. Lynne Parshall, age 64, has served as a Director of Ionis since September 2000 and as a Senior Strategic Advisor to Ionis since January 2018. Previously she served as our Chief Operating Officer from December 2007 through January 2018 and as our Chief Financial Officer from June 1994 through December 2012. She also served as our Corporate Secretary through 2014 and has served with the Company in various executive roles since November 1991. Prior to joining Ionis, Ms. Parshall practiced law at Cooley LLP, outside counsel to Ionis, where she was a partner from 1986 to 1991. Ms. Parshall is a member of the American and California bar associations. Ms. Parshall serves on the board of directors of Cytokinetics, Inc. and Akcea Therapeutics, Inc., both public biopharmaceutical companies. Within the last five years, Ms. Parshall formerly served as a director of Regulus Therapeutics, Inc.

The Board believes Ms. Parshall is uniquely suited to serve on the Board primarily because, as the former Chief Operating Officer and former executive of the Company for over 26 years, she has valuable Company-specific experience and expertise. In addition, Ms. Parshall has over 32 years of experience structuring and negotiating strategic licensing and financing transactions in the life sciences field.

Joseph H. Wender, age 74, has served as a Director of Ionis since January 1994. Mr. Wender began with Goldman, Sachs & Co. in 1971 and became a General Partner of that firm in 1982, where he headed the Financial Institutions Group for over a decade. Since January 2008, he has been a Senior Consultant to Goldman Sachs & Co. He is a former Independent Trustee of the Schwab Family of Funds and is a Director of Grandpoint Capital, a bank holding company. Mr. Wender also is co-CEO and partner of Colgin Cellars. Since March 2014, Mr. Wender has been a director, and is currently Lead Director, of Outfront Media, lessors of advertising space on out-of-home advertising structures.

The Board believes Mr. Wender is uniquely suited to serve on the Board primarily because, with over 47 years of experience as an investment banker with Goldman, Sachs & Co., he provides Ionis important advice regarding our financial reporting, corporate finance matters, strategic transactions, and compensation matters.

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Biographies of the Directors Whose Terms Expire at the 2021 Annual Meeting

Breaux B. Castleman, age 78, has served as a Director of Ionis since June 2013. Since August 2001, Mr. Castleman has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Syntiro Healthcare Services, Inc., a healthcare investment company, which sold its operations as a service provider of integrated care management and disease management. Mr. Castleman was a director of USMD Holdings, Inc., a physician-led integrated healthcare system, from September 2009 until October 2016.

The Board believes that Mr. Castleman is uniquely suited to serve on the Board and the Audit Committee because he has significant experience in strategic planning and financial structuring matters for Fortune 1000 companies and has financial advisory expertise in the life sciences industry.

Frederick T. Muto, age 65, has served as a Director of Ionis since March 2001. Mr. Muto joined the law firm of Cooley LLP, outside counsel to Ionis, in 1980, became a partner in 1986 and senior counsel in 2018. He is a founder of Cooley LLP’s San Diego office and was chair of the firm’s Business Department for a number of years.

The Board believes that Mr. Muto is uniquely suited to serve on the Board and the Audit Committee primarily because, with over 38 years of experience at one of the country’s leading law firms focused on life sciences and technology companies, he provides us important advice regarding our strategic transactions, corporate governance and compensation matters.

Peter N. Reikes, age 58, has served as a Director of Ionis since September 2018. Mr. Reikes is a Vice Chairman in the Investment Banking Division at Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc., which he joined in late 2010. Over the course of his more than 30-year career in investment banking, Mr. Reikes has completed a wide range of financing and merger and acquisition transactions for companies in the life sciences, medical technology and healthcare services sectors. Prior to joining Stifel, Nicolaus, he spent 11 years at Cowen and Company, LLC, where he was Vice Chairman and Head of Healthcare Investment Banking, and over 14 years at PaineWebber Incorporated, where he was a Managing Director and Head of Healthcare Investment Banking and began his career in 1985. Mr. Reikes is also a director of the Heart & Soul Foundation, an organization that supports a range of community service programs in the greater New York City area. Mr. Reikes is a former director of Ricerca Biosciences, LLC, Biocompatibles, Ltd., and the affiliated partnership boards of Alkermes, Inc., Cephalon, Inc., Gensia, Inc., Genzyme Corporation and Repligen Corporation, as well as the Institute for Quality Improvement of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Mr. Reikes received his B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles and his M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Board believes that Mr. Reikes is uniquely suited to serve on the Board primarily because, with over 30 years as an investment banker, he has extensive experience in finance and strategic transactions for companies in the life sciences, medical technology and healthcare services industries.

Brett Monia, age 57, has served as a Director of Ionis since March 2019. Dr. Monia was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in January 2018. From January 2012 to January 2018, Dr. Monia served as our Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery, from February 2009 to January 2012, he served as our Vice President, Drug Discovery, and from October 2000 to February 2009, he served as our Vice President, Preclinical Drug Discovery. From October 1989 to October 2000, he held various positions within our Molecular Pharmacology department.

The Board believes that Dr. Monia is uniquely suited to serve on the Board primarily because, as an executive officer of the Company since 2012 and a founder of Ionis, he has dedicated nearly 30 years to discovering and developing antisense-based drugs. Dr. Monia is the inventor on over 100 issued patents and has directly supervised programs resulting in the clinical development of more than 40 antisense-based drugs across a broad range of therapeutic areas. Based on his experience and expertise, the Board has selected Dr. Monia to serve as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer starting in January 2020.

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INFORMATION REGARDING THE BOARD AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Independence of the Board

As required under Nasdaq listing standards, a majority of the members of a listed company’s board of directors must qualify as “independent,” as evaluated by our Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and affirmed by our Board. Our Nominating, Governance and Review Committee consults with our legal counsel to ensure that the Committee’s determinations are consistent with all relevant securities and other laws and regulations regarding the definition of “independent,” including those set forth in the applicable Nasdaq listing standards and applicable SEC rules and regulations, as in effect from time to time.

Consistent with these considerations, after review of all relevant transactions or relationships between each Director, or any of his or her family members, and Ionis, its senior management and its independent auditors, the Board affirmatively has determined that all of our Directors are independent Directors within the meaning of the applicable Nasdaq listing standards and SEC rules and regulations, except for Dr. Crooke, Ms. Parshall and Dr. Monia, our Chief Executive Officer, former Chief Operating Officer, and current Chief Operating Officer, respectively. In making this determination, the Board found that none of these independent Directors has a material or other disqualifying relationship with us. Notably, Mr. Muto is no longer a partner at Cooley LLP, Ionis’ outside counsel.

Information Regarding the Board and its Committees

Leadership Structure

Our Chief Executive Officer is the Chairman of the Board. The Board believes that Ionis’ CEO is best suited to serve as Chairman because he has served as CEO since Ionis was formed 30 years ago and he is the Director most familiar with our science, business and industry. Because of that experience, he is the Director most capable of effectively identifying strategic priorities and leading the discussion and execution of strategy. Our independent Directors bring experience, oversight and expertise from outside Ionis and our industry, while the CEO brings Company-specific experience and expertise. Currently, the Board believes the combined role of Chairman and CEO promotes strategy development and execution, and facilitates information flow between management and the Board, which are essential to effective governance. Beginning January 2020, Dr. Monia will assume the position of CEO, and Dr. Crooke will transition to Executive Chairman of the Board, thereby making the roles of Chairman and CEO separate.

One of the key responsibilities of the Board is to develop strategic direction and hold management accountable for executing the established strategy. As part of each Board meeting, our independent Directors meet in an executive session without the presence of our employee Directors. We do not have a single “lead independent director.” Instead, the Chairpersons of the Audit Committee, the Compensation Committee, and the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee preside over the executive sessions on a rotating basis. This rotating approach provides diversity to the process, thereby ensuring healthy discussion since the same individual does not continuously lead each executive session. In addition, Dr. Loscalzo and Mr. Reikes, who are both independent Board members, are members of the Agenda Committee, which sets the agenda for each Board meeting. At this time, the Board believes the combined role of Chairman and CEO, together with the executive sessions and agenda setting described above, is in the best interest of stockholders because it provides the appropriate balance between developing strategy and independently overseeing management.

Risk Oversight

Our Board administers its risk oversight function directly and through both its Audit Committee and its Nominating, Governance and Review Committee. The Audit Committee oversees management of financial risks and related party transactions. The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee manages risks associated with the independence of the Board and potential conflicts of interests at the Board level, and periodically reviews our policies and procedures and makes recommendations when appropriate. We provide a complete description of each committee and its respective roles and responsibilities on pages 12 through 16 of this Proxy Statement. While each of these committees is responsible for evaluating certain risks and overseeing how we manage risk, these committees regularly inform the entire Board about such risks through committee reports.

In addition to the formal compliance program, the Board, the Audit Committee, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and the Science/Medical Committee encourage management to promote a

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corporate culture that understands risk management and incorporates it into the overall corporate strategy and day-to-day business operations. Our risk management structure also includes an ongoing effort to assess and analyze the most likely areas of future risk for Ionis. As a result, the Board, the Audit Committee, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and the Science/Medical Committee periodically ask our executives to discuss the most likely sources of material future risks and how we are addressing any significant potential vulnerability.

Board Committees

The Board has five committees: an Audit Committee, a Compensation Committee, a Nominating, Governance and Review Committee, an Agenda Committee and a Science/Medical Committee. Below is a description of each committee of our Board. Each of the committees has authority to engage legal counsel or other experts or consultants as it deems appropriate to carry out its responsibilities. The Board has determined that each member of our Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, and Nominating, Governance and Review Committee:

meets the applicable rules and regulations regarding “independence,” including, but not limited to, Rule 5605(a)(2) of the Nasdaq listing standards and applicable SEC rules and regulations;
is not an officer or employee of Ionis; and
is free of any relationship that would interfere with his individual exercise of independent judgment with regard to Ionis.

Meetings and Attendance; Committee Members

The Board met eight times in 2018. During 2018, each Director attended 75% or more of the aggregate number of meetings of the Board and the committees on which such Director served. We encourage each member of the Board to attend the Annual Meeting of Stockholders.

Board Committee Members

The table below provides membership and meeting information for fiscal 2018 for each of the Board committees.

Name
Audit
Compensation
Nominating,
Governance and
Review
Agenda
Science/
Medical
Attended
2018 Annual
Meeting
Dr. Spencer R. Berthelsen
 
 
 
X
*
 
X
*
 
 
 
X
 
 
X
 
Mr. Breaux B. Castleman
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
Dr. Stanley T. Crooke
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
*
 
X
*
 
X
 
Dr. Michael Hayden(3)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mr. Joseph Klein, III
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dr. Joseph Loscalzo
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
 
Mr. Frederick T. Muto(1)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
 
 
X
 
Ms. B. Lynne Parshall
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
 
 
X
 
Mr. Peter N. Reikes(3)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mr. Joseph H. Wender
 
X
*
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total meetings in fiscal year 2018
 
5
 
 
8
(2) 
 
2
 
 
3
 
 
0
 
 
 
 
*Committee Chairperson
(1)Mr. Muto served as an advisor, in a non-voting capacity, to the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee, and to the Compensation Committee.
(2)The Compensation Committee also acted by written consent 12 times. Our Compensation Committee typically acts by unanimous written consent each month to confirm stock options and RSUs granted in connection with new hires and promotions.
(3)Dr. Hayden and Mr. Reikes were appointed to the Board on September 19, 2018, and initially were not appointed to any Board committees.

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The table below identifies our current Board and committee members.

Name
Audit
Compensation
Nominating,
Governance and
Review
Agenda
Science/
Medical
Dr. Spencer R. Berthelsen
 
 
 
X
*
 
X
 
 
 
 
X
 
Mr. Breaux B. Castleman
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dr. Stanley T. Crooke
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
*
 
X
*
Dr. Michael Hayden
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
Mr. Joseph Klein, III
 
X
*
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dr. Joseph Loscalzo
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
X
 
Mr. Frederick T. Muto
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
Ms. B. Lynne Parshall
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
 
Mr. Peter N. Reikes
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
 
Mr. Joseph H. Wender
 
 
 
X
 
 
X
*
 
 
 
 
Dr. Brett Monia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
 
*Committee Chairperson

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee of the Board oversees our corporate accounting and financial reporting process, including audits of our financial statements. For this purpose, the Audit Committee performs several functions.

The Audit Committee:

reviews the annual and quarterly financial statements and oversees the annual and quarterly financial reporting processes, including sessions with the auditors in which Ionis’ employees and management are not present;
selects and hires our independent auditors;
oversees the independence of our independent auditors;
evaluates our independent auditors’ performance; and
has the authority to hire its own outside consultants and advisors, if necessary.

In addition to the responsibilities listed above, the Audit Committee has the following functions:

reviewing our annual budget with management and, if acceptable, recommending the budget to the Board for approval;
setting and approving changes to our investment policy;
receiving and considering our independent auditors’ comments as to the audit of the financial statements and internal controls, adequacy of staff and management performance and procedures in connection with internal controls;
reviewing and, if appropriate, approving related party transactions;
establishing and enforcing procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints regarding accounting or auditing improprieties; and
pre-approving all audit and non-audit services provided by our independent auditors that are not prohibited by law.

Our Audit Committee charter requires that each member must be independent. We consider the members to be independent as long as they:

do not accept any consulting, advisory or other compensatory fee from us, except in connection with their service as a Director;
are not an affiliate of Ionis or one of its subsidiaries; and
meet all of the other Nasdaq independence requirements.

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In addition, all Audit Committee members must be financially literate and at least one member must be a “financial expert,” as defined by SEC regulations. Our Board has determined that the Audit Committee’s financial expert is Mr. Klein based on, among other things, his status as a Chartered Financial Analyst and his extensive public company, venture investment, board, and financial advisory expertise in the life sciences industry, including previously serving as Chairman of the Audit Committee at several public biopharmaceutical companies. We provide the Audit Committee with the funding it needs to perform its duties.

In 2018, the Audit Committee met five times. The Board has adopted a written Audit Committee charter, which you can find on our corporate website at www.ionispharma.com.3 Each member meets the membership criteria set forth in the Audit Committee charter and as stated above.

Compensation Committee

The primary function of the Compensation Committee of the Board is to review, modify (as needed) and approve our overall compensation strategy and policies and approve the compensation and other terms of employment of our executive officers, including our Chief Executive Officer. We include a full list of the Compensation Committee’s responsibilities as part of the Compensation Discussion and Analysis (“CD&A”) set forth on pages 39 through 62 of this Proxy Statement. The charter of the Compensation Committee grants the Compensation Committee full access to all of our books, records, facilities and personnel, and authority to obtain, at our expense, advice and assistance from internal and external legal, accounting or other advisors and consultants and other external resources that the Compensation Committee considers necessary or appropriate in the performance of its duties. In particular, the Compensation Committee has the sole authority to retain independent compensation consultants to help the Compensation Committee evaluate executive and Director compensation, including the authority to approve the consultants’ reasonable fees and other retention terms.

We also have a Non-Management Stock Option Committee that, as delegated by the Compensation Committee, may award stock options and RSUs to employees who are below director level in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Compensation Committee. The Non-Management Stock Option Committee has one member, Dr. Crooke.

The Compensation Committee met eight times in 2018 and acted by unanimous written consent 12 times. The Board has adopted a written Compensation Committee charter, which you can find on our corporate website at www.ionispharma.com.4

The Compensation Committee reviews with management Ionis’ CD&A to consider whether to recommend that we include the CD&A in our Proxy Statements and other filings.

Compensation Committee Interlocks and Insider Participation

As noted above, during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, our Compensation Committee was composed of Dr. Berthelsen and Mr. Wender. Currently, the Compensation Committee is composed of Dr. Berthelsen, Mr. Wender and Mr. Muto. In each case, none of the members of the Compensation Committee has ever been an employee or officer of Ionis. None of our executive officers serves as a member of the board of directors or compensation committee of any other entity that has one or more executive officers serving as a member of our Board or Compensation Committee.

Nominating, Governance and Review Committee

The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee of the Board is responsible for:

interviewing, evaluating, nominating and recommending individuals for membership on our Board, and considering proposed changes to the Board for approval;
managing risks associated with the independence of the Board and potential conflicts of interests at the Board level, and periodically reviewing our policies and procedures and making recommendations when appropriate; and
3Any information that is included on or linked to our website is not part of this Proxy Statement or any registration statement or report that incorporates this Proxy Statement by reference.
4Any information that is included on or linked to our website is not part of this Proxy Statement or any registration statement or report that incorporates this Proxy Statement by reference.

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performing such other functions as may be necessary or convenient for the efficient discharge of the foregoing.

The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee met two times during 2018. You can find our Nominating, Governance and Review Committee charter on our corporate website at www.ionispharma.com.5

Director Nominations - Quality Standards

The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee believes that candidates for Director should have certain minimum qualifications. As a result, the Board adopted membership standards and believes that the Board members should meet the minimum membership requirements listed below.

The minimum membership requirements are as follows:

members must be able to read and understand basic financial statements;
members must demonstrate high personal integrity and ethics;
members cannot serve as a director on the board of more than five other publicly traded companies;
members cannot serve more than ten consecutive terms on the Board, except that Stanley T. Crooke, a founder of the Company, may serve for no more than 15 consecutive terms; and
members cannot run for re-election or serve on the Board once they have reached the age of 80.

In addition to these minimum standards, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee will consider such factors as:

possessing relevant expertise to offer advice and guidance to management;
having sufficient time to devote to Ionis’ affairs;
demonstrating excellence in his or her field;
having sound business judgment; and
being committed to vigorously representing the long-term interests of our stockholders.

Director Nominations - Diversity Discussion

In considering Director nominations, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee considers the total mix of competencies represented on the Board as a whole, as well as the competencies each member, or nominee, brings to the Board. In general, our Board members’ experience falls into three large categories: (1) investment banking, financial accounting and corporate governance experience; (2) medical and scientific expertise; and (3) employee versus non-employee Directors. By selecting individuals who have investment banking, financial accounting and corporate governance backgrounds, we gain valuable experience that ensures we are managing our financial resources appropriately, reporting our financial results fairly and accurately, and generally running our business consistent with current good corporate practices. As a cutting edge drug discovery and development company, we also greatly benefit from Board members who themselves are scientists and medical doctors. This way we can set and adjust our strategy and objectives based on the results we generate from our research and development efforts. In different ways, these first two categories allow us to effectively manage our cash and make prudent investments in our technology to achieve the greatest likelihood of success. We try to evenly balance the Board members across these first two categories.

Regarding the third category, a mix of employee and non-employee Directors offers different perspectives for the Board to consider when making decisions. Employee Directors can provide the Board valuable insight regarding our day-to-day operations, which can help the Board make important management and compensation decisions. Non-employee Directors can compare the opportunities and challenges presented to Ionis against the facts and circumstances these Directors are experiencing outside Ionis. We have a higher number of non-employee Directors versus employee Directors. Finally, we do not discriminate against nominees on the basis of gender, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

5Any information that is included on or linked to our website is not part of this Proxy Statement or any registration statement or report that incorporates this Proxy Statement by reference.

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Director Nominations - Process

      The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee will consider Director candidates our stockholders recommend. The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee does not intend to alter the manner in which it evaluates candidates, including the minimum criteria set forth above, based on whether or not a stockholder recommended the candidate.

The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee reviews new candidates for Director in the context of the Board’s composition, our operating requirements and our stockholders’ long-term interests. In conducting this assessment, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee considers diversity, maturity, skills, the minimum membership requirements discussed above, and such other factors as it deems appropriate given the current needs of the Board and Ionis, to maintain a balance of knowledge, experience and capability. The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee then uses its network of contacts to compile a list of potential candidates, but may also engage, if it deems appropriate, a paid professional search firm. The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee conducts any appropriate and necessary inquiries into the backgrounds and qualifications of possible candidates after considering the function and needs of the Board. In the case of incumbent Directors whose terms of office are set to expire, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee reviews such Directors’ overall service to Ionis during their term, including the number of meetings attended, level of participation, quality of performance, and any other relationships and transactions that might impair such Directors’ independence.

The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee meets to discuss and consider the candidates’ qualifications and determines whether each candidate is independent based upon applicable Nasdaq listing standards, SEC rules and regulations, and the advice of counsel, if necessary. Finally, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee then selects a nominee for recommendation to the Board by majority vote.

In recruiting potential candidates for Board vacancies in 2018, the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee, in addition to conducting its own search, engaged a professional search firm and asked the firm to identify diverse potential candidates. The Nominating, Governance and Review Committee selected the most highly qualified candidates who satisfied the criteria set forth above.

Stockholder Recommendations for Directors

Stockholders who wish to recommend individuals for consideration by the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee to become nominees for election to the Board may do so by delivering a written recommendation to Ionis’ corporate secretary at the following address: 2855 Gazelle Court, Carlsbad, CA 92010. Submissions must include:

the name, age, business address and residence address of the nominee;
the principal occupation or employment of the nominee;
the stock ownership in Ionis of the nominee;
the stock ownership in Ionis of the stockholder making the nomination, including any trading in derivative securities that may disguise ownership occurring within the last 12 months;
the information relating to the nominee that is required to be disclosed in solicitations of proxies under applicable securities laws;
the nominee’s written consent to being named in the Proxy Statement as a nominee and to serving as a Director if elected;
other information as we may reasonably require to determine the eligibility of the proposed nominee to serve as an independent Director or that could be material to a reasonable stockholder’s understanding of the independence of the proposed nominee; and
any voting commitments the nominee has to third parties.

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In addition, the nominee will need to complete a written questionnaire regarding the background and qualifications of the nominee, and the background of any other person or entity on whose behalf the nomination is being made. The nominee must also agree to comply with all of our applicable publicly disclosed corporate governance, conflict of interest, confidentiality and stock ownership and trading policies and guidelines. The description of the requirements for Director nomination set forth above is qualified in its entirety by reference to our full and complete bylaws, which is an exhibit to our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on December 18, 2015, a copy of which is available by contacting our corporate secretary. To date, the Board has not received or rejected a timely Director nominee for election at the upcoming stockholder meeting from a stockholder or stockholders holding more than 5% of our voting stock.

Agenda Committee

The primary function of the Agenda Committee of the Board is to determine the matters to be considered by the Board at each of its meetings and prepare an agenda accordingly. The Agenda Committee discussed in advance and set the agenda for each regularly scheduled Board meeting held in 2018.

Science/Medical Committee

The primary functions of the Science/Medical Committee of the Board are to focus on the key scientific and development issues facing our technology and drugs in development and help set our strategy in such areas. The Science/Medical Committee did not meet in 2018.

Stockholder Communications with the Board

We make every effort to ensure that our Board or individual Directors, as applicable, hear our stockholders’ views, and provide appropriate responses to stockholders in a timely manner. Stockholders who wish to communicate with the Board, or individual Directors, may do so by sending written communications addressed to Ionis’ corporate secretary at 2855 Gazelle Court, Carlsbad, CA 92010. If you wish to communicate with the independent Directors about your concerns or issues, you may address correspondence to a particular Director or to the independent Directors generally. If you do not name a particular Director, depending on the subject matter, we will forward the letter to the Chair of the Audit, Compensation, or Nominating, Governance and Review Committee. One or more of our employees designated by the Board will review these communications and will determine whether to present the materials to the Board. The purpose of this screening is to allow the Board to avoid having to consider irrelevant or inappropriate communications, such as advertisements, commercial solicitations and hostile communications. In accordance with our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct policy, all communications that relate to questionable accounting or auditing matters involving Ionis will be promptly and directly forwarded to the Audit Committee. Other than the processes described above, our Board has not adopted a formal written process for stockholder communications with the Board. We believe our Board’s responsiveness to stockholder communications has been excellent.

Code of Ethics and Business Conduct

We have adopted a Code of Ethics and Business Conduct that applies to all officers, Directors and employees. We have posted our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct on our website. If we make any substantive amendments to the Code of Ethics and Business Conduct or grant any waiver from a provision of the Code of Ethics and Business Conduct to any executive officer or Director, we will promptly disclose the nature of the amendment or waiver on our website at www.ionispharma.com.6

Corporate Governance Guidelines

The Board has adopted corporate governance guidelines to ensure that the Board will have the necessary authority and practices in place to review and evaluate our business operations as needed and to make decisions that are independent of our management. The guidelines are also intended to align our Directors’ and management’s interests with those of our stockholders. The corporate governance guidelines set forth the practices the Board intends to follow with respect to board composition and selection, board meetings and involvement of senior management, Chief Executive Officer performance evaluation, succession planning for

6Any information that is included on or linked to our website is not part of this Proxy Statement or any registration statement or report that incorporates this Proxy Statement by reference.

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Board committees and compensation, “clawbacks” of executive compensation, and share retention guidelines for our executive officers and Directors. The Board adopted the corporate governance guidelines to, among other things, reflect changes to the Nasdaq listing standards and SEC rules adopted to implement provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. You may view our corporate governance guidelines, as well as the charters for the Audit, Compensation and Nominating, Governance and Review committees at www.ionispharma.com.7

7Any information that is included on or linked to our website is not part of this Proxy Statement or any registration statement or report that incorporates this Proxy Statement by reference.

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PROPOSAL 2

ADVISORY VOTE TO RATIFY THE APPOINTMENT OF MR. REIKES

This Proposal 2 is to ratify the appointment of Mr. Reikes to the Board. Mr. Reikes was nominated to join the Board by our Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and was unanimously appointed to the Board on September 19, 2018. Mr. Reikes was appointed to fill a vacancy caused by an increase in the size of the Board recommended by the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and approved by the Board. He is part of a class of Directors whose term expires at the 2021 Annual Meeting because our Certificate of Incorporation requires that, as nearly as possible, each class is to consist of one-third of the number of Directors. However, the Board believes that, in keeping with our commitment to good corporate governance practices, it is important for our stockholders to ratify, on an advisory basis, any member of the Board whom the Board appoints. As a result, the Board has submitted Mr. Reikes’ directorship for ratification, on an advisory basis, at the Annual Meeting.

This Proposal 2 is advisory and therefore is not binding on Ionis or the Board. However, the Board and the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee value the opinions of the stockholders. As such, if less than a majority of shares present in person or represented by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote on the matter approve the ratification of Mr. Reikes’ appointment to the Board, then the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee will make a recommendation to the Board on whether to request Mr. Reikes to tender his resignation or take other action. The Board will act on the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee’s recommendation and publicly disclose its decision and the rationale behind it within 90 days from the date of the certification of the election results. Mr. Reikes will not participate in the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee or in the Board’s decision.

THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE “FOR” THE RATIFICATION OF THE APPOINTMENT OF MR. REIKES.

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PROPOSAL 3

ADVISORY VOTE TO RATIFY THE APPOINTMENT OF DR. MONIA

This Proposal 3 is to ratify the appointment of Dr. Monia to the Board. Dr. Monia was nominated to join the Board by our Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and was unanimously appointed to the Board on March 22, 2019. Dr. Monia was appointed to fill a vacancy caused by an increase in the size of the Board recommended by the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee and approved by the Board. He is part of a class of Directors whose term expires at the 2021 Annual Meeting because our Certificate of Incorporation requires that, as nearly as possible, each class is to consist of one-third of the number of Directors. However, the Board believes that, in keeping with our commitment to good corporate governance practices, it is important for our stockholders to ratify, on an advisory basis, any member of the Board whom the Board appoints. As a result, the Board has submitted Dr. Monia’s directorship for ratification, on an advisory basis, at the Annual Meeting.

This Proposal 3 is advisory and therefore is not binding on Ionis or the Board. However, the Board and the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee value the opinions of the stockholders. As such, if less than a majority of shares present in person or represented by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote on the matter approve the ratification of Dr. Monia’s appointment to the Board, then the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee will make a recommendation to the Board on whether to request Dr. Monia to tender his resignation from the Board or take other action. The Board will act on the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee’s recommendation and publicly disclose its decision and the rationale behind it within 90 days from the date of the certification of the election results. Dr. Monia will not participate in the recommendation of the Nominating, Governance and Review Committee or in the Board’s decision.

THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE “FOR” THE RATIFICATION OF THE APPOINTMENT OF DR. MONIA.

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PROPOSAL 4

APPROVAL OF AN AMENDMENT AND RESTATEMENT OF OUR 2011 EQUITY INCENTIVE PLAN

In March 2011, the Compensation Committee of the Board, and the Board, adopted the Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2011 Equity Incentive Plan (the “2011 Plan”) and the stockholders approved the Plan on June 16, 2011. In March 2015, the Compensation Committee of the Board, and the Board, approved an amendment to the 2011 Plan to increase the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Plan by 5,500,000 to an aggregate of 11,000,000 shares, and the stockholders approved such amendment on June 30, 2015. In March 2017, the Compensation Committee of the Board, and the Board, approved an amendment to the 2011 Plan to increase the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Plan by 5,000,000 to an aggregate of 16,000,000 shares, and the stockholders approved such amendment on May 24, 2017. In March 2019, the Compensation Committee of the Board, and the Board, approved an amendment and restatement of the 2011 Plan as further described herein.

In this Proposal 4, we are requesting stockholders to approve an amendment and restatement of the 2011 Plan primarily to:

prohibit the payment of dividends and dividend equivalents with respect to shares subject to an award until such shares have vested in accordance with the terms of the corresponding award agreement;
eliminate the recycling of shares forfeited to cover the exercise price or withholding taxes for stock options and stock appreciation rights (“SARs”);
require a minimum vesting period of at least one year for all awards except in certain limited circumstances as described below;
increase the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Plan by 7,000,000 to an aggregate of 23,000,000 shares;
eliminate references to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the “Code”), as amended (“Section 162(m)”), and eliminate individual grant limits that applied under the 2011 Plan to awards that were intended to comply with the exemption for “performance-based compensation” under Section 162(m);
provide that if any stock awards held by participants who haven’t terminated service prior to a corporate transaction are not assumed, continued or substituted for by the acquiror (or its parent) in the transaction, then, contingent on the closing of the transaction, the vesting (and exercisability, if applicable) of such awards will be accelerated in full, and with respect to any awards subject to performance-based vesting conditions, vesting will be deemed satisfied at the greater of actual performance or target level; and
extend the term of the 2011 Plan by an additional 10 years such that it will terminate on June 15, 2031.

Our management, Board and Compensation Committee believe that stock options and restricted stock units (“RSUs”) are a key aspect of our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel in the face of intense competition for experienced scientists and other personnel among many pharmaceutical and health care companies. The Board, upon the recommendation of the Compensation Committee, has approved an increase in the aggregate number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Plan by 7,000,000 to an aggregate of 23,000,000 shares, to ensure that for a period of at least two years, based on our current business plans, we can continue to grant stock options and RSUs to employees at appropriate levels as determined by the Compensation Committee. If the stockholders do not approve this Proposal 4, and as a consequence, we cannot continue to grant options and RSUs at competitive levels, we believe that it will negatively affect our ability to recruit and retain highly qualified personnel and our ability to manage future growth. Without these additional shares, management expects that the current shares available for grant under the 2011 Plan will not be sufficient to maintain our stock award practices for new employees or for promotions or merit awards for current employees.

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Each year the Compensation Committee approves a budget that sets the number of stock options and RSUs we can grant our employees for annual merit awards. We do not grant options or RSUs that exceed this budget without the Compensation Committee’s approval. Over the past three years, the average merit award stock budget set by the Compensation Committee has been approximately 2.2% of our outstanding common stock on an issued and outstanding basis. This stock compensation budget, and therefore our equity compensation burn rate, is well below the 4.04% average of our peers.

The 2011 Plan was adopted to ultimately replace the Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 1989 Stock Option Plan (the “89 Plan”). There were only approximately 44,000 shares available as of March 31, 2019 for grant under the 89 Plan.

The 2011 Plan is our primary means of offering stock options and RSUs to our employees. There were only approximately 629,000 shares available as of March 31, 2019 for grant under the 2011 Plan.

The table below provides certain information regarding the 2011 Plan and the 89 Plan.

Employee Equity Incentive Plans
(as of March 31, 2019)

 
2011 Plan
89 Plan
Total number of shares of common stock subject to outstanding stock options
 
10,602,715
 
 
453,677
 
Weighted-average exercise price of outstanding stock options
$
52.77
 
$
21.34
 
Weighted-average remaining term in years of outstanding stock options
 
4.88
 
 
1.26
 
Total number of shares of common stock subject to outstanding full value awards
 
1,715,061
 
 
 
Total number of shares of common stock available for grant under the plan
 
629,140
 
 
43,652
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total number of shares of common stock available for grant to non-employee Directors under the Non-Employee Director Plan(1)
 
 
 
 
420,762
 
Total number of shares of common stock available for grant under other equity incentive plans
 
 
 
 
 
Total number of shares of common stock outstanding
 
 
 
 
139,623,937
 
Per-share closing price of common stock as reported on Nasdaq Capital Market
 
 
 
$
81.17
 
(1)This amount reflects the number of shares of common stock available as of March 31, 2019 for grant under our 2002 Amended and Restated Non-Employee Directors’ Stock Option Plan (the “Non-Employee Director Plan”), which we use solely to offer equity awards to our non-employee Directors. With respect to the Non-Employee Director Plan, the total number of shares of common stock subject to outstanding stock options is 757,750, the weighted-average exercise price of outstanding stock options is $31.74, the weighted-average remaining term in years of outstanding stock options is 6.28, the total number of shares of common stock subject to outstanding full value awards is 63,099, and the total number of shares of common stock available for grant under the Non-Employee Director Plan is 420,762. We have no equity incentive plans other than the 2011 Plan, the 89 Plan and the Non-Employee Director Plan.

The 2011 Plan also allows us to utilize a broad array of equity incentives and performance cash incentives to secure and retain the services of our employees and to provide long-term incentives that align the interests of our employees with the interests of our stockholders.

Required Vote and Board of Directors Recommendation

Approval of this Proposal 4 requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present or represented by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote on the matter. Abstentions will be counted toward the tabulation of votes cast on the proposal and will have the same effect as “Against” votes. Broker non-votes will have no effect on the outcome of the vote.

Our Board believes that approval of Proposal 4 is in our best interests and the best interests of our stockholders for the reasons stated above.

THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE “FOR” APPROVAL OF PROPOSAL 4.

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DESCRIPTION OF THE IONIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. 2011 EQUITY INCENTIVE PLAN

Below is a high-level summary of the terms of the 2011 Plan. This summary is qualified in its entirety by reference to the complete text of the 2011 Plan. We encourage our stockholders to read the actual text of the 2011 Plan, as amended, in its entirety, a copy of which we filed with this Proxy Statement as Appendix A.

The 2011 Plan as amended by this Proposal:

is administered by our Compensation Committee, which is composed entirely of independent Directors;
has a term ending on June 15, 2031;
prohibits the repricing of any option or SAR outstanding under the 2011 Plan, or “cashing out” underwater awards unless approved by our stockholders;
is limited to the granting of stock options, SARs, restricted stock awards, RSUs, performance stock awards, and performance cash awards;
prohibits the payment of dividends and dividend equivalents with respect to shares subject to an award until such shares have vested in accordance with the terms of the corresponding award agreement;
eliminates the recycling of shares forfeited to cover the exercise price or withholding taxes for stock options and SARs;
requires that each newly granted stock option, restricted stock award, RSU, SAR and performance stock award not become fully vested until a date at least one year after the date of grant, except in the case of (1) a sale of all or substantially all of the assets of the Company, (2) a disposition of at least 90% of the Company’s securities, a merger or other similar transaction after which the Company is not the surviving corporation, (3) a merger or other similar transaction after which the Company is the surviving corporation but the shares of common stock immediately preceding the transaction are exchanged into other property, (4) an award granted in exchange for previously granted awards of a company acquired by the Company and (5) awards to non-employee directors that vest on the earlier of the one-year anniversary of the date of grant or the next annual meeting of stockholders, provided that such vesting period may not be less than 50 weeks; and Ionis may grant up to 1,150,000 shares worth of stock options, restricted stock awards, RSUs, SARs or performance stock awards that vest earlier than the minimum period described above;
provides that if any stock awards held by participants who haven’t terminated service prior to a corporate transaction are not assumed, continued or substituted for by the acquiror (or its parent) in the transaction, then, contingent on the closing of the transaction, the vesting (and exercisability, if applicable) of such awards will be accelerated in full, and with respect to any awards subject to performance-based vesting conditions, vesting will be deemed satisfied at the greater of actual performance or target level; and
requires all options and SARs outstanding under the 2011 Plan to have an exercise or strike price of not less than 100% of the fair market value of our common stock on the date of grant.

Purpose

The main purpose of the 2011 Plan is to allow us to give our employees (including officers), Directors and consultants an opportunity to benefit from increases in value of our common stock through the granting of a combination of stock options and RSUs. We believe providing our employees a combination of stock options and RSUs allows us to:

retain the highest quality employees while motivating all employees to achieve key drivers of stock value;
issue fewer shares, thereby reducing dilution;
better align employee and stockholder interests; and
encourage long-term holding by executive employees because stock settlement for RSUs does not require a same-day-sale.

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In 2018, we granted our employees a combination of stock options and RSUs under our 2011 Plan, where we allocated 60% of the grant date dollar value to stock options and allocated 40% of the value to RSUs; and assumed that each share subject to an RSU was worth one-and-a-half shares subject to a stock option.

Background

The terms of the 2011 Plan provide for the grant of stock options, SARs, restricted stock awards, RSUs, performance stock awards and performance cash awards that may be settled in cash, stock or other property.

Shares Available for Awards

If this Proposal 4 is approved, there will be a total of 23,000,000 shares of our common stock authorized for issuance under the 2011 Plan. If this Proposal 4 is not approved, there will be fewer than 629,000 shares available for issuance under the 2011 Plan, which we expect will not be sufficient to maintain our stock award practices for new employees or for promotions or merit awards for current employees.

The following table summarizes the equity awards granted over the last three years, and through March 31, 2019, to our employees under our equity plans. We grant most of our equity awards for each year in January of such year as part of the annual merit compensation process. We have not attempted to forecast our future grant activity due to the number of assumptions that would be necessary to do so and the potential unpredictability of such underlying assumptions and estimates.

Equity Award Grant History Under Employee Equity Plans(1)

 
2016
2017
2018
2019
(through March 31)
Shares subject to equity awards granted
 
2,774,127
 
 
3,694,093
 
 
4,306,314
 
 
2,918,349
 
Shares subject to equity awards canceled
 
346,001
 
 
1,756,728
(3) 
 
612,762
 
 
77,479
 
Net shares subject to equity awards(2)
 
2,428,126
 
 
1,937,365
 
 
3,693,552
 
 
2,840,870
 
(1)Amounts shown reflect grants under our 2011 Plan and 89 Plan. We currently grant equity awards to our non-employee Directors separately under our Non-Employee Director Plan.
(2)Shares subject to equity awards that are canceled or expire become available for re-issuance under the applicable equity plan. Therefore, net shares for any year is the total shares subject to awards granted in that year less the shares subject to awards canceled in such year.
(3)Amount for 2017 is due to the Akcea IPO, in which Akcea employees were required to cancel their Ionis equity awards to keep their Akcea options.

If, under the 2011 Plan, a stock option or RSU is cancelled or terminated, then any unexercised shares subject to such cancelled or terminated stock options or unissued shares subject to such cancelled or terminated RSUs will become available for issuance under the 2011 Plan. In addition, if we issue common stock pursuant to a stock award and the common stock is later forfeited, then the forfeited shares will again become available for issuance under the 2011 Plan. Any shares we reacquire pursuant to our withholding obligations in connection with a restricted stock award, RSU or performance stock award (but not a stock option or SAR) will again become available for issuance under the 2011 Plan.

Limited Recycling of Shares Related to Options and SARs

In amending and restating the 2011 Plan, we prohibited the recycling of shares we reacquire pursuant to our withholding obligations in connection with a stock option or SAR or as consideration for the exercise of a stock option or SAR. If this Proposal 4 is approved, such reacquired shares will not become available for issuance under the 2011 Plan.

Eligibility

All of our employees in the United States, numbering 490 for Ionis and 264 for Akcea as of March 31, 2019, and our Directors and consultants are eligible to participate in the 2011 Plan and may receive all types of awards available under the 2011 Plan. Our practice, however, is not to grant awards to Akcea employees or to consultants.

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Administration

Our Board administers the 2011 Plan. The Board may delegate authority to administer the 2011 Plan to a committee but may retain the authority to concurrently administer the 2011 Plan with the committee and may, at any time, revest in itself some or all of the powers previously delegated to the committee. Our Board has delegated administration of the 2011 Plan to the Compensation Committee. Subject to the terms of the 2011 Plan, the Compensation Committee may determine the recipients, numbers and types of stock awards to be granted, and terms and conditions of the stock awards, including the period of their exercisability and vesting. Subject to the limitations set forth below, the Compensation Committee also determines the fair market value applicable to a stock award and the exercise price of stock options and SARs granted under the 2011 Plan.

At the discretion of the Board, the Compensation Committee may consist solely of two or more “non-employee directors” within the meaning of Rule 16b-3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). We also have a Non-Management Stock Award Committee that, as delegated by the Compensation Committee, awards stock awards to employees who are below director level in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Compensation Committee. The Non-Management Stock Award Committee has one member, Dr. Crooke. As used herein, except as explicitly stated otherwise, with respect to the 2011 Plan, the “Board” refers to any committee the Board appoints or, if applicable, any subcommittee, as well as to the Board itself.

No Repricing, “Cash-Out,” or Cancellation and Re-Grant of Stock Awards without Stockholder Approval

Under the 2011 Plan, the Board cannot reprice any outstanding options or SARs by reducing the exercise price of the stock award or cancel any outstanding options or SARs in exchange for cash or other stock awards without obtaining the approval of our stockholders within 12 months prior to the repricing or cancellation and re-grant event.

Minimum Vesting; Restrictions on Accelerated Vesting

Under the 2011 Plan, no stock award granted to an employee or member of the Board will become 100% vested in a period of less than one year after the grant of such award, except that the vesting of a stock award may accelerate (or may be accelerated by the Board or Compensation Committee) in the case of (1) a sale of all or substantially all of the assets of the Company, (2) a disposition of at least 90% of the Company’s securities, a merger or other similar transaction after which the Company is not the surviving corporation, (3) a merger or other similar transaction after which the Company is the surviving corporation but the shares of common stock immediately preceding the transaction are exchanged into other property, (4) an award granted in exchange for previously granted awards of a company acquired by the Company and (5) awards to non-employee directors that vest on the earlier of the one-year anniversary of the date of grant or the next annual meeting of stockholders, provided in such case that such vesting period may not be less than 50 weeks; and Ionis may grant up to 1,150,000 shares worth of stock options, restricted stock awards, RSUs, SARs or performance stock awards that vest earlier than the minimum period described above.

Dividends and Dividend Equivalents

The 2011 Plan prohibits the payment of dividends and dividend equivalents with respect to shares subject to an award until such shares have vested in accordance with the terms of the corresponding award agreement.

No Evergreen

The 2011 Plan does not include an automatic share reserve increase provision (i.e., an evergreen provision).

Stock Options

The Board grants stock options under the 2011 Plan pursuant to stock option agreements. The Plan permits the grant of stock options that qualify as nonstatutory stock options, or “NSOs.” Individual stock option agreements may be more restrictive as to any or all of the permissible terms described in this section.

Exercise Price; Payment

The exercise price of stock options may not be less than 100% of the fair market value of the common stock subject to the stock option on the date of grant. As of March 31, 2019, the closing price of our common stock as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market was $81.17 per share.

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Vesting

Stock options granted under the 2011 Plan may become exercisable in cumulative increments, or “vest,” as determined by our Board at the rate specified in the stock option agreement, subject to the minimum vesting requirements described above. Shares covered by different stock options granted under the 2011 Plan may be subject to different vesting schedules as our Board may determine.

Term

In general, the term of stock options granted under the 2011 Plan is seven years, and the 2011 Plan does not allow stock options to have a term that exceeds ten years. Unless the terms of an optionholder’s stock option agreement or other agreement with the Company provides for earlier or later termination:

if an optionholder’s service relationship with us, or any affiliate of ours, ceases due to disability, the optionholder may exercise any vested stock options for up to 12 months after the date the service relationship ends;
if an optionholder’s service relationship with us, or any affiliate of ours, ceases due to death, the optionholder, or his or her beneficiary, may exercise any vested stock options for up to 18 months after the date the service relationship ends; and
if an optionholder’s service relationship with us, or any affiliate of ours, ceases for any reason, other than as described above, the optionholder may exercise any vested stock options for up to three months after the date the service relationship ends.

Under the 2011 Plan, the stock option term may be extended in the event that exercise of the stock option following termination of service is prohibited by applicable securities laws or if the sale of stock received upon exercise of a stock option would violate the Company’s insider trading policy. In no event may a stock option be exercised after its expiration date.

Consideration

Our Board determines the acceptable forms of consideration for the purchase of our common stock pursuant to the exercise of a stock option under the 2011 Plan, which may include cash, check, bank draft or money order made payable to us, shares of our common stock, payment pursuant to a program developed under Regulation T as promulgated by the Federal Reserve Board, or a net exercise feature.

Transferability

Generally, an optionholder may not transfer a stock option other than by will or the laws of descent and distribution or a domestic relations order. However, to the extent permitted under the terms of the applicable stock option agreement, an optionholder may designate a beneficiary who may exercise the stock option following the optionholder’s death.

Restricted Stock Unit Awards

RSUs are granted under the 2011 Plan pursuant to restricted stock unit award agreements. Payment of any purchase price is made in any legal form acceptable to the Board. We settle a payment due to a recipient of a restricted stock unit award by delivery of shares of our common stock, by cash, by a combination of cash and stock, or in any other form of consideration determined by our Board and set forth in the restricted stock unit award agreement. We may credit dividend equivalents in respect of shares of our common stock covered by a restricted stock unit award; however, no dividend equivalents may be paid with respect to such shares before the date such shares have vested in accordance with the terms of the corresponding award agreement. RSUs are subject to vesting in accordance with a vesting schedule determined by our Board, subject to the minimum vesting requirements described earlier. Except as otherwise provided in the applicable RSU award agreement, RSUs that have not vested will be forfeited upon the participant’s termination of continuous service for any reason.

Restricted Stock Awards

The Board may grant restricted stock awards under the 2011 Plan pursuant to restricted stock award agreements. The Board may grant a restricted stock award in consideration for cash, check, bank draft or money order payable to us, the recipient’s services performed for us or our affiliate, or any other form of legal

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consideration acceptable to the Board. Shares of our common stock acquired under a restricted stock award are subject to forfeiture to us in accordance with a vesting schedule determined by our Board. Holders of awards may only transfer their rights to acquire shares of our common stock under a restricted stock award upon such terms and conditions as are set forth in the restricted stock award agreement. We may credit dividend equivalents in respect of shares of our common stock covered by a restricted stock award; however, no dividend equivalents may be paid with respect to such shares before the date such shares have vested in accordance with the terms of the corresponding award agreement. Except as otherwise provided in the applicable restricted stock award agreement, restricted stock awards that have not vested will be forfeited upon the participant’s termination of continuous service for any reason.

Stock Appreciation Rights

The Board may grant SARs under the 2011 Plan pursuant to SAR agreements. Each SAR is denominated in common stock share equivalents. The Board will determine the strike price of each stock appreciation right but the strike price cannot be less than 100% of the fair market value of the stock subject to the SAR at the time of grant. Our Board may also impose restrictions or conditions upon the vesting of SARs that it deems appropriate, subject to the minimum vesting requirements described earlier. We may settle SARs in our common stock, in cash, in a combination of cash and stock, or in any other form of legal consideration approved by our Board and set forth in the stock appreciation right agreement. SARs will be subject to the same conditions upon termination and restrictions on transfer as stock options under the 2011 Plan.

Performance Awards

The 2011 Plan provides for the grant of two types of performance awards: performance stock awards and performance cash awards. The Board may grant, vest or settle performance awards based upon the attainment of specified performance goals during a specified period of time. The Compensation Committee will determine the length of any performance period, the performance goals to be achieved during the performance period, and the measure of whether and to what degree such performance goals have been attained.

In granting a performance award, the Compensation Committee will set a period of time, called a performance period, over which the attainment of one or more performance goals will be measured for the purpose of determining whether the award recipient has a vested right in or to such award. The Compensation Committee will establish the performance goals, based upon one or more criteria, called performance criteria enumerated in the 2011 Plan and described below. As soon as administratively practicable following the end of the performance period, the Compensation Committee will determine whether the performance goals have been satisfied.

The Board will determine performance goals under the 2011 Plan, based on any one or more of the following performance criteria:


   

   







   






earnings (including earnings per share and net
earnings)
earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
amortization
return on equity or average stockholders’ equity
stock price
income (before or after taxes)
operating income
operating cash flow
increases in revenue or product revenue
improvement in or attainment of working capital
levels
market share
cash flow per share
debt reduction
customer satisfaction
capital expenditures
operating profit
growth of net income or operating income














   
   
earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation
total stockholder return
return on assets, investment, or capital employed
margin (including gross margin)
sales or revenue targets
expenses and cost reduction goals
economic value added (or an equivalent metric)
cash flow
share price performance
stockholders’ equity
debt levels
workforce diversity
billings
implementation or completion of projects or
processes (including, but not limited to,
development and regulatory milestones)
other measures of performance selected by the
Board

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The Board is authorized to determine whether, when calculating the attainment of performance goals for a performance period, as follows:

to exclude restructuring and/or other nonrecurring charges;
to exclude exchange rate effects, as applicable, for non-U.S. dollar denominated performance goals;
to exclude the effects of changes to generally accepted accounting principles;
to exclude the effects of any statutory adjustments to corporate tax rates;
to exclude the effects of items that are “unusual” in nature or occur “infrequently,” as determined under generally accepted accounting principles; and
to exclude accounting expenses relating to share-based compensation.

Changes to Capital Structure

If certain capitalization adjustments occur, the Board will appropriately adjust:

the class(es) and maximum number of securities subject to the 2011 Plan; and
the class(es) and number of securities and price per share of stock subject to outstanding stock awards.

Corporate Transactions

Unless otherwise provided in the stock award agreement, any other written agreement between the Company or any of its affiliates and the participant, or in any director compensation policy of the Company, in the event of a corporate transaction (as specified in the 2011 Plan and described below), all outstanding stock awards under the 2011 Plan will be assumed, continued or substituted for by any surviving or acquiring entity (or its parent company). If the surviving or acquiring entity (or its parent company) elects not to assume, continue or substitute for such stock awards, then (i) with respect to any such stock awards that are held by individuals whose continuous service with us or an affiliate has not terminated prior to the effective date of the corporate transaction, the vesting and exercisability provisions of such stock awards will be accelerated in full (and with respect to any performance stock awards, vesting will be deemed satisfied at the greater of actual performance or target level) and such awards will terminate if not exercised prior to the effective date of the corporate transaction, and (ii) with respect to any stock awards that are held by individuals whose continuous service with the Company or an affiliate of the Company has terminated prior to the effective date of the corporate transaction, the vesting and exercisability provisions of such stock awards will not be accelerated and such awards will terminate if not exercised prior to the effective date of the corporate transaction (except that any reacquisition or repurchase rights held by the Company with respect to such stock awards will not terminate and may continue to be exercised notwithstanding the corporate transaction).

For purposes of the 2011 Plan, a corporate transaction will be deemed to occur in the event of the consummation of:

a sale of all or substantially all of our consolidated assets;
a sale of at least 90% of our outstanding securities;
a merger or consolidation in which we are not the surviving corporation; or
a merger or consolidation in which we are the surviving corporation but shares of our outstanding common stock are converted into other property by virtue of the transaction.

The acceleration of vesting of an award in the event of a corporate transaction under the 2011 Plan may be viewed as an anti-takeover provision, which may have the effect of discouraging a proposal to acquire or otherwise obtain control of the Company.

Change in Control

A stock award will not be subject to additional acceleration of vesting and exercisability in connection with a change in control (as defined in the 2011 Plan), unless otherwise provided in the stock award agreement or in any other written agreement between us or any affiliate and the participant. In such a case, the stock award

27

agreement or other written agreement may provide that vesting (and, if applicable, exercisability) of time-based awards will be accelerated in full and performance-based stock awards will be deemed to have been satisfied at the greater of actual performance or target level.

The acceleration of vesting of an award in the event of a change in control event under the 2011 Plan may be viewed as an anti-takeover provision, which may have the effect of discouraging a proposal to acquire or otherwise obtain control of the Company.

Plan Amendments

Our Board has the authority to amend or terminate the 2011 Plan. However, no amendment or termination of the plan will adversely affect any rights under awards already granted to a participant unless agreed to by the affected participant. We will obtain stockholder approval of any amendment to the 2011 Plan as required by applicable law and listing requirements. Ionis will not seek to amend the prohibition on option repricing or “cashing-out” without obtaining such stockholder approval.

Plan Termination

Unless sooner terminated by our Board, the 2011 Plan will automatically terminate on June 15, 2031.

Federal Income Tax Information

The information set forth below is a summary only and does not purport to be complete. The information is based upon current federal income tax rules and therefore is subject to change when those rules change. Because the tax consequences to any recipient may depend on his or her particular situation, each recipient should consult the recipient’s tax adviser regarding the federal, state, local, and other tax consequences of the grant or exercise of an award or the disposition of stock acquired as a result of an award. The 2011 Plan is not qualified under the provisions of Section 401(a) of the Code and is not subject to any of the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Our ability to realize the benefit of any tax deductions described below depends on our generation of taxable income, as well as the requirement of reasonableness and the satisfaction of our tax reporting obligations.

Nonstatutory Stock Options

Generally, there is no taxation upon the grant of an NSO if the stock option is granted with an exercise price equal to the fair market value of the underlying stock on the grant date. On exercise, an optionholder will recognize ordinary income equal to the excess, if any, of the fair market value of the underlying stock on the date of exercise of the stock option over the exercise price. If the optionholder is employed by us or one of our affiliates, that income will be subject to withholding taxes. The optionholder’s tax basis in those shares will be equal to their fair market value on the date of exercise of the stock option, and the optionholder’s capital gain holding period for those shares will begin on that date.

Subject to the requirement of reasonableness, the provisions of Section 162(m) of the Code, and the satisfaction of our tax reporting obligation, we will generally be entitled to a tax deduction equal to the taxable ordinary income realized by the optionholder.

Restricted Stock Unit Awards

Generally, the recipient of a restricted stock unit award structured to comply with the requirements of Section 409A of the Code or an exemption to Section 409A of the Code will recognize ordinary income at the time the stock is delivered equal to the excess, if any, of the fair market value of the shares of our common stock received over any amount paid by the recipient in exchange for the shares of our common stock. To comply with the requirements of Section 409A of the Code, the shares of our common stock subject to a restricted stock unit award may generally only be delivered upon one of the following events: a fixed calendar date (or dates), separation from service, death, disability or a change in control. If delivery occurs on another date, unless the restricted stock unit award otherwise complies with or qualifies for an exemption to the requirements of Section 409A of the Code, in addition to the tax treatment described above, the recipient will owe an additional 20% federal tax and interest on any taxes owed.

28

The recipient’s basis for the determination of gain or loss upon the subsequent disposition of shares acquired from a restricted stock unit award will be the amount paid for such shares plus any ordinary income recognized when the stock is delivered.

Subject to the requirement of reasonableness, the provisions of Section 162(m) of the Code, and the satisfaction of our tax reporting obligation, we will generally be entitled to a tax deduction equal to the taxable ordinary income realized by the recipient of the restricted stock unit award.

Restricted Stock Awards

Generally, the recipient of a restricted stock award will recognize ordinary income at the time the stock is received equal to the excess, if any, of the fair market value of the stock received over any amount paid by the recipient in exchange for the stock. If, however, the stock is not vested when it is received (for example, if the employee is required to work for a period of time in order to have the right to sell the stock), the recipient generally will not recognize income until the stock becomes vested, at which time the recipient will recognize ordinary income equal to the excess, if any, of the fair market value of the stock on the date it becomes vested over any amount paid by the recipient in exchange for the stock. A recipient may, however, file an election with the Internal Revenue Service, within 30 days following his or her receipt of the stock award, to recognize ordinary income, as of the date the recipient receives the award, equal to the excess, if any, of the fair market value of the stock on the date the award is granted over any amount paid by the recipient for the stock.

The recipient’s basis for the determination of gain or loss upon the subsequent disposition of shares acquired from a restricted stock award will be the amount paid for such shares plus any ordinary income recognized either when the stock is received or when the stock becomes vested.

Subject to the requirement of reasonableness, the provisions of Section 162(m) of the Code, and the satisfaction of our tax reporting obligation, we will generally be entitled to a tax deduction equal to the taxable ordinary income realized by the recipient of the restricted stock award.

Stock Appreciation Rights

We may grant stock appreciation rights under the 2011 Plan separate from any other award or together with other awards under the 2011 Plan.

Generally, if a stock appreciation right is granted with an exercise price equal to the fair market value of the underlying stock on the grant date, the recipient will recognize ordinary income equal to the fair market value of the stock or cash received upon such exercise.

Subject to the requirement of reasonableness, the provisions of Section 162(m) of the Code, and the satisfaction of our tax reporting obligation, we will generally be entitled to a tax deduction equal to the taxable ordinary income realized by the recipient of the stock appreciation right.

Section 162(m) Limitations

Section 162(m) of the Code disallows a deduction to any publicly held corporation and its affiliates for certain compensation paid to “covered employees” in a taxable year to the extent that compensation paid to a covered employee exceeds $1 million. The exemption from Section 162(m)’s deduction limit for performance-based compensation has been repealed, effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, such that compensation paid to our covered employees in excess of $1 million will not be deductible unless it qualifies for transition relief applicable to certain arrangements in place as of November 2, 2017, and not modified in any material respect on or after such date. As a result, compensation (including compensation pursuant to awards granted under the 2011 Plan) paid to any of our “covered employees” under Section 162(m) of the Code in excess of $1 million per taxable year generally will not be deductible.

29

New Plan Benefits

The following table presents certain information with respect to stock options and RSUs granted in January 2019 for the recipient’s 2018 performance to (a) each executive officer named in the Summary Compensation Table under “Executive Compensation—Compensation of Executive Officers,” (b) all executive officers as a group, (c) all non-employee Directors as a group and (d) all non-executive officer employees as a group. This information regarding such grants is for illustration only and may not be indicative of grants that are made in the future under the 2011 Plan.

NEW PLAN BENEFITS
2011 PLAN

Name and Position
Number of Shares
Underlying RSUs
Number of Shares
Underlying Stock
Options
Stanley T. Crooke
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President
 
63,726
 
 
143,400
 
Elizabeth L. Hougen
Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
 
22,131
 
 
49,800
 
Brett Monia,
Chief Operating Officer
 
45,728
 
 
102,900
 
Richard S. Geary
Senior Vice President, Development
 
25,730
 
 
57,900
 
Patrick R. O’Neil
Senior Vice President, Legal, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
 
22,131
 
 
49,800
 
B. Lynne Parshall,
Former Chief Operating Officer(1)
 
 
 
 
All Executive Officers as a Group
 
213,308
 
 
480,000
 
All Non-Employee Directors as a Group
 
 
 
 
All Non-Executive Officer Employees as a Group
 
636,165
 
 
1,432,002
 
(1)Since Ms. Parshall is no longer an employee, we do not expect she will receive future awards under the 2011 Plan.

Please see page 38 for information regarding outstanding options and shares reserved for future issuance under our equity compensation plans as of March 31, 2019.

30

PROPOSAL 5

ADVISORY VOTE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, called the “Dodd-Frank Act,” entitles Ionis’ stockholders to vote to approve, on an advisory (nonbinding) basis, the compensation of our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and our three other most highly compensated executive officers (at December 31, 2018), as well as our former Chief Operating Officer, called our “named executive officers” as disclosed in this Proxy Statement in accordance with the SEC’s rules.

We are asking our stockholders to indicate their support for our named executive officers’ compensation as described in this Proxy Statement. This Proposal 5, commonly known as a “say on pay” proposal, gives our stockholders the opportunity to express their views on the compensation paid to our named executive officers. This vote is not intended to address any specific item of compensation, but rather the overall compensation of our named executive officers and the philosophy, policies and practices described in this Proxy Statement. Accordingly, we are asking our stockholders to vote “FOR” the following resolution at the Annual Meeting:

“RESOLVED, that Ionis’ stockholders approve, on an advisory basis, the compensation of the named executive officers, as disclosed in this Proxy Statement for the 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders pursuant to the compensation disclosure rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

We recommend you carefully review the EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION section of this Proxy Statement located on pages 39 through 62. Below is a high-level summary of some of our compensation practices. This summary is qualified by the detailed disclosure contained in the EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION section of this Proxy Statement.

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The table below summarizes some of our executive compensation practices, both the practices we implement because we believe they are consistent with our vision and long-term stockholder value (see “What We Do” below), and those that we choose not to implement as we believe they are counter to our vision and long-term stockholder value (see “What We Don’t Do” below):

What We Do
What We Don’t Do
Demand more of every employee: more commitment, more knowledge, more intensity, more innovation, more productivity
Do not guarantee a cash bonus – cash bonuses can, and have been, zero
Reward productivity and performance
Do not provide perquisites for any employees
Recognize the value of long-term employees and low turnover
Do not provide “gross-up” payments, other than for relocation
Use a balanced mix of fixed and variable cash incentives and long-term equity incentives
Do not allow pledging, shorting or hedging against our stock
Review compensation compared to the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of our peer group
Do not reprice or “cash-out” stock options without stockholder approval
Design our compensation philosophy and objectives to mitigate unnecessary or imprudent business risk taking
 
 
Set explicit and demanding objectives at the beginning of each year from which we measure performance for the year
 
 
Place a maximum limit on Performance Management By Objective (MBO) awards
 
 
Set a strict budget for equity awards and salary increases
 
 
Set the size of equity awards based on individual and company performance
 
 
Require minimum vesting periods for equity awards
 
 
Maintain equity holding periods that require our executive officers and non-employee Board members to hold shares received from their RSUs until they meet certain ownership thresholds or no longer serve the Company
 
 
Maintain equity holding periods that require our employees to hold ESPP shares for a minimum of six months
 
 
Require our executive officers and VPs to trade Ionis’ stock through Rule 10b5-1 trading plans
 
 
Use a “double trigger” for cash payments for change of control
 
 
Use an executive “clawback” policy
 
 
Use an independent compensation consultant engaged by the Compensation Committee
 
 

32

CEO Compensation vs. Total Return
(Over Five Years)

The graph below shows the relationship of our CEO’s compensation ($ in thousands) as calculated pursuant to SEC rules compared to the total return (TSR) on $100 invested on December 31, 2014 in our common stock through December 31, 2018. While stock price is only one of the measures of performance we use to set executive compensation, including for our CEO, over the past five-year period, our CEO’s compensation has generally aligned with our stock performance. Over this period, TSR has generally increased and has outperformed the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, as reported in our 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K.

For 2016, however, Ionis’ one-year TSR was negative. Our CEO’s compensation for that period increased, largely due to an increase in the Company Performance Factor for the Performance MBO for 2016. Due to Ionis’ significant strategic and financial achievements during 2016, including, among other things, exceeding our financial guidance and obtaining FDA approval of SPINRAZA just three months after the FDA’s acceptance of the NDA filing, the Compensation Committee felt that the increased Company Performance Factor was appropriate.

The many achievements of the Company in 2016 laid the foundation for significant growth in 2017 and 2018, as shown by the graph on page 49. Ionis ended 2018 in a very strong financial position, with 2018 revenues of $600 million, a more than 15% increase from 2017, and Ionis’ seventh consecutive year of revenue growth. For the third year in a row, Ionis was profitable, with non-GAAP8 operating income in 2018 of $70 million. As shown in the graph below, our CEO’s compensation aligned with TSR for both 2017 and 2018.9


The affirmative vote of a majority of the holders of shares present or represented by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote on the matter is required to adopt the resolution. If you indicate on your proxy to “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as a vote “Against” this Proposal 5. Brokers do not have

8We use “non-GAAP” in place of “pro-forma” when discussing our financial results that exclude non-cash compensation expense related to equity awards because we believe that non-GAAP financial results better represent the economics of our business and how we manage our business.
9This graph is not “soliciting material,” is not deemed “filed” with the SEC, is not subject to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act and is not to be incorporated by reference in any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) or the Exchange Act, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing.

33

discretion to vote uninstructed shares with respect to this Proposal 5. Accordingly, if brokers do not receive voting instructions from beneficial owners of the shares, they cannot vote the shares. Therefore, broker non-votes will not affect the outcome of the voting on this Proposal 5.

The “say on pay” vote is advisory, and therefore is not binding on Ionis, the Compensation Committee or the Board. However, Ionis’ management, the Board and the Compensation Committee value the opinions of the stockholders. As such, if there is any significant vote against the named executive officers’ compensation as disclosed in this Proxy Statement, the Board will consider the stockholders’ concerns and the Board and Compensation Committee will evaluate whether any actions are necessary to address those concerns.

THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE “FOR” APPROVAL OF PROPOSAL 5.

34

PROPOSAL 6

RATIFICATION OF SELECTION OF INDEPENDENT AUDITORS

The Audit Committee has selected Ernst & Young LLP as our independent registered public accounting firm for our 2019 fiscal year and has requested management to ask for stockholder ratification at the Annual Meeting. Ernst & Young LLP has audited our financial statements since we were founded in 1989. Representatives of Ernst & Young LLP will be at the Annual Meeting to answer any questions and make a statement should they desire to do so.

Although our bylaws do not require stockholders to ratify our independent registered public accounting firm, the Audit Committee would like our stockholders’ opinion as a matter of good corporate practice. If the stockholders do not ratify the selection of Ernst & Young LLP, the Audit Committee will reconsider whether to keep the firm. However, even if the stockholders ratify the selection, the Audit Committee may choose to appoint a different independent accounting firm at any time during the year if it believes that a change would be in the best interests of our stockholders and Ionis.

The affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the shares present in person or represented by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote on the matter will be required to ratify the selection of Ernst & Young LLP. If you indicate on your proxy to “Abstain” from voting, it will have the same effect as an “Against” vote for this Proposal 6.

Independent Auditors’ Fees

The Audit Committee has adopted a policy and procedure for the pre-approval of audit and permissible non-audit services rendered by our independent registered public accounting firm, Ernst & Young LLP. The policy generally pre-approves specific services in the defined categories of audit services, audit-related services, and tax services up to pre-determined amounts. The Audit Committee may pre-approve services as part of its approval of the scope of the engagement of the independent auditor or on an individual explicit case-by-case basis before the Audit Committee engages the independent registered public accounting firm to provide each service. The Audit Committee pre-approved all of the services described below.

Audit Fees

For the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, Ernst & Young LLP billed us approximately $1,300,000 and $800,000 for each year, respectively, primarily related to the integrated audit of our financial statements and reviews of our interim financial statements. In addition, Ernst & Young LLP billed us approximately $500,000 and approximately $400,000 in 2018 and 2017, respectively, related to corporate transactions, of which approximately $350,000 and $100,000 was billed to Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. (“Akcea”), our affiliate, for each year, respectively. Additionally, for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, Ernst & Young LLP billed us approximately $450,000 and $300,000, respectively, related to the audit of the financial statements of Akcea.

Audit Related Fees

For the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, there were no audit related fees billed by Ernst & Young LLP.

Tax Fees

For the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, Ernst & Young LLP billed us approximately $350,000 and $400,000 for each year, respectively, primarily related to professional services on tax projects, including services related to Akcea’s international tax planning, of which approximately $125,000 and $200,000 was billed to Akcea each year, respectively.

All Other Fees

During the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, all other fees billed by Ernst & Young LLP were approximately $5,000 and $2,000, respectively. These fees were for a subscription to an online accounting and tax information service. The Audit Committee has determined that the rendering of all non-audit services by Ernst & Young LLP is compatible with maintaining the auditor’s independence. During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, none of the total hours expended on our financial audit by Ernst & Young LLP were provided by persons other than Ernst & Young LLP’s employees.

THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE “FOR” APPROVAL OF PROPOSAL 6.

35

SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT

This table outlines the ownership of our common stock as of March 1, 2019 by:

each Director and nominee for Director;
each executive officer named in the Summary Compensation Table under “Executive Compensation—Compensation of Executive Officers”;
all Directors and executive officers as a group; and
every entity that we know beneficially owns more than five percent of our common stock.
 
Beneficial Ownership(1)
Beneficial Owner
Number of
Shares
Percent of
Total(2)
FMR LLC(3)
245 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210
 
20,657,943
 
 
14.92
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Vanguard Group(4)
100 Vanguard Boulevard
Malvern, PA 19355
 
11,829,388
 
 
8.54
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Biogen Inc.(5)
225 Binney Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
 
11,501,153
 
 
8.30
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ClearBridge Investments, LLC(6)
620 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
 
10,380,319
 
 
7.50
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Baillie Gifford & Co(7)
Calton Square
1 Greenside Row
Edinburgh EH1 3AN
Scotland UK
 
8,750,014
 
 
6.32
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BB Biotech AG(8)
Schwertstrasse 6
CH-8200, Schaffhausen
Switzerland
 
8,741,334
 
 
6.31
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BlackRock, Inc.(9)
55 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10055
 
7,676,257
 
 
5.54
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wellington Management Group LLP(10)
280 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210
 
7,654,019
 
 
5.53
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Spencer R. Berthelsen(11)
 
201,664
 
 
 
*
Breaux B. Castleman(12)
 
86,044
 
 
 
*
Stanley T. Crooke(13)
 
1,386,736
 
 
1.00
%
Joseph Klein, III(14)
 
36,706
 
 
 
*
Joseph Loscalzo(15)
 
72,919
 
 
 
*
Frederick T. Muto(16)
 
118,794
 
 
 
*

36

 
Beneficial Ownership(1)
Beneficial Owner
Number of
Shares
Percent of
Total(2)
B. Lynne Parshall(17)
 
436,891
 
 
 
*
Joseph H. Wender(18)
 
131,416
 
 
 
*
Richard S. Geary(19)
 
191,467
 
 
 
*
Elizabeth L. Hougen(20)
 
194,836
 
 
 
*
Brett Monia(21)
 
189,303
 
 
 
*
Patrick R. O’Neil(22)
 
105,914
 
 
 
*
All Directors and executive officers as a group (sixteen persons)(23)
 
3,327,255
 
 
2.40
%
*Less than one percent
(1)We base this table upon information supplied by officers, Directors, principal stockholders and Form 3s, Form 4s, Form 5s, Schedules 13D and 13G filed with the SEC. Unless otherwise indicated in the footnotes to this table and subject to community property laws where applicable, we believe that each of the stockholders named in this table has sole voting and investment power with respect to the shares indicated as beneficially owned.
(2)Applicable percentages are based on 138,494,134 shares of common stock outstanding on March 1, 2019, adjusted as required by rules promulgated by the SEC.
(3)Abigail P. Johnson is a Director, the Chairman, and the Chief Executive Officer of FMR LLC. Members of the Johnson family, including Abigail P. Johnson, are the predominant owners, directly or through trusts, of Series B voting common shares of FMR LLC, representing 49% of the voting power of FMR LLC. The Johnson family group and all other Series B shareholders have entered into a shareholders’ voting agreement under which all Series B voting common shares will be voted in accordance with the majority vote of Series B voting common shares. Accordingly, through their ownership of voting common shares and the execution of the shareholders’ voting agreement, members of the Johnson family may be deemed, under the Investment Company Act of 1940, to form a controlling group with respect to FMR LLC.

Neither FMR LLC nor Abigail P. Johnson has the sole power to vote or direct the voting of the shares owned directly by the various investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act (“Fidelity Funds”) advised by Fidelity Management & Research Company (“FMR Co”), a wholly owned subsidiary of FMR LLC, which power resides with the Fidelity Funds’ Boards of Trustees. FMR Co carries out the voting of the shares under written guidelines established by the Fidelity Funds’ Boards of Trustees.

(4)The Vanguard Group has sole voting power to direct the vote of 71,798 shares, shared voting power to direct the vote of 18,126 shares, sole power to dispose or direct the disposition of 11,752,364 shares, and shared dispositive power for 77,024 shares. Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Vanguard Group, Inc., is the beneficial owner of 58,898 shares of our common stock outstanding as a result of its serving as investment manager of collective trust accounts. Vanguard Investments Australia, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Vanguard Group, Inc., is the beneficial owner of 31,026 shares of our common stock outstanding as a result of its serving as investment manager of Australian investment offerings.
(5)Biogen Inc. shares voting and dispositive power for its shares with Biogen MA Inc.
(6)ClearBridge Investments, LLC is an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act. ClearBridge Investments has sole voting power to direct the vote of 10,043,272 shares and sole power to dispose or direct the disposition of 10,380,319 shares.
(7)Baillie Gifford & Co is an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act. Baillie Gifford has sole voting power to direct the vote of 4,010,945 shares and sole power to dispose or direct the disposition of 8,750,014 shares.
(8)BB Biotech AG shares voting and dispositive powers for its shares with Biotech Target N.V.
(9)BlackRock, Inc. is a parent holding company and various persons have the right to receive or the power to direct the receipt of dividends from, or the proceeds from the sale of shares of our common stock. BlackRock has sole voting power to direct the vote of 7,162,317 shares and sole power to dispose or direct the disposition of 7,676,257 shares. Wellington Management Company LLP is an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act. Wellington Management Group LLP, Wellington Group Holdings LLP, and Wellington Investment Advisors Holdings LLP are parent holding companies or control persons under the Investment Advisers Act.
(10)Wellington Management Group LLP, Wellington Group Holdings LLP and Wellington Investment Advisors Holdings LLP have shared voting power to direct the vote of 4,786,400 shares and shared power to dispose or direct the disposition of 7,654,019 shares. Wellington Management Company LLP has shared voting power to direct the vote of 4,756,441 shares and shared power to dispose or direct the disposition of 7,552,038 shares.
(11)Includes 70 shares owned by Dr. Berthelsen’s daughter for which he disclaims beneficial ownership. Includes 107,500 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Dr. Berthelsen that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(12)Includes 73,750 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Mr. Castleman that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(13)Includes shares of common stock held by Dr. Crooke and 551,890 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Dr. Crooke that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019. Also includes 725,391 shares of common stock held in a family trust for which Dr. Crooke shares voting and investment power. Also includes 34,289 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Rosanne Crooke, Dr. Crooke’s wife, which are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019. Dr. Crooke disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares of common stock owned and issuable upon exercise of options held by his wife.
(14)Includes 100 shares of common stock beneficially owned by Mr. Klein’s son and 24,000 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Mr. Klein that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(15)Includes 62,500 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Dr. Loscalzo that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.

37

(16)Includes 1,500 shares of common stock beneficially owned through the Cooley LLP Salary Deferral and Profit Sharing Plan and 107,500 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Mr. Muto that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(17)Includes 384,214 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Ms. Parshall that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(18)Includes shares of common stock held by Mr. Wender in a trust, and 62,500 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Mr. Wender that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(19)Includes 170,025 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Dr. Geary that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(20)Includes 174,889 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Ms. Hougen that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(21)Includes 167,032 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Dr. Monia that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(22)Includes 86,241 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options held by Mr. O’Neil that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.
(23)Includes an aggregate of 2,156,364 shares issuable upon exercise of options held by all current Directors and executive officers as a group that are exercisable on or before April 30, 2019.

Section 16(a) Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance

Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act requires our Directors, executive officers, and persons who own more than ten percent of a registered class of our equity securities, to file with the SEC initial reports of ownership and reports of changes in ownership of our common stock and other equity securities. Officers, Directors and greater than ten percent stockholders are required by SEC regulation to furnish us with copies of all Section 16(a) forms they file.

To our knowledge, based solely on a review of the copies of such reports furnished to us and written representations that no other reports were required, during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, all Section 16(a) filing requirements applicable to our officers, Directors and greater than ten percent beneficial owners were complied with.

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

The following table sets forth information regarding outstanding options and shares reserved for future issuance under our equity compensation plans as of March 31, 2019.

Plan Category
Number of Shares
to be Issued
Upon Exercise of
Outstanding Options
Weighted Average
Exercise Price of
Outstanding Options
Number of Shares
Remaining
Available for
Future Issuance
Equity compensation plans approved by stockholders(1)
 
11,814,142
 
$
48.65
 
 
1,843,253
(2) 
Total
 
11,814,142
 
$
48.65
 
 
1,843,253
 
(1)Consists of four Ionis plans: 1989 Stock Option Plan, Amended and Restated 2002 Non-Employee Directors’ Stock Option Plan, 2011 Equity Incentive Plan, and Employee Stock Purchase Plan, or ESPP.
(2)Of these shares, 749,699 remained available for purchase under the ESPP as of March 31, 2019.

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EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

Compensation Discussion and Analysis

Business and Compensation Overview and 2018 Corporate Performance Achievement

      Our mission. Since inception, the Ionis mission has been to create a new, more efficient technology for drug discovery and development – antisense technology – and exploit that technology to create a pipeline of first-in-class and/or best-in-class medicines to treat a wide range of diseases. Today, thanks to the innovation and perseverance of Ionis, we believe antisense technology has the potential to treat diseases where no other therapeutic approach has proved effective.

 
      Ionis is focused on innovation. Ionis has implemented a business strategy intended to support long-term innovation based on the efficiency of antisense technology. Ionis has created an innovation-focused, science-driven culture that couples with the technology and business model to ensure long-term productivity and a commitment to the patients we serve and our stockholders.

Innovation drives our success. Antisense technology exists today primarily because of the innovation at Ionis, with more than 1,800 issued patents that provide substantial control of key elements of the technology for many years to come. Our sizable collection of issued patents is all the more remarkable given that Ionis has approximately 490 employees. This means Ionis has produced over three issued patents per employee. Our intellectual property has been critical in the completion of partnerships that have resulted in over $4 billion in cash since 2007 and the development of a consortium of companies that advance the technology alongside us, and thereby increase our reach. We achieved our seventh consecutive year of revenue growth in 2018, establishing our ability to generate sustainable revenue from our numerous partnerships. We should continue to realize the value of our partnerships, and our consortium of companies, for many years to come in the form of license fees, milestone payments and royalties. Ionis has been recognized as one of the top ten most innovative companies in the biotechnology industry, based on number of granted patents, scientific strength, industry impact, technology strength and research intensity. In addition, Ionis and Biogen received the prestigious International Prix Galien Award for the Best Biotechnology Product in 2018 for SPINRAZA.

Commercial medicines and robust pipeline. We have two commercial medicines approved in major markets around the world, SPINRAZA and TEGSEDI. We have at least four medicines that have entered pivotal studies or have the potential to begin pivotal studies in 2019, and at least another six medicines that could start pivotal studies in 2020. These medicines, along with the more than 30 additional medicines in our pipeline, represent multiple potential drivers of value for years to come. We believe our efficient drug discovery platform, coupled with our innovation-centric business model, provides us with the flexibility to determine the optimal development and commercialization strategy to maximize the commercial opportunity for each of our medicines and ensure that we continue to produce transformative medicines for patients who need them. We believe we are positioned to continue to drive substantial value for patients and stockholders.

Organizational strategy. A key component of our business and organizational strategy is to maintain an optimal size to foster innovation. We believe the optimal size for Ionis is approximately 400-500 employees. We are able to maintain this optimal size by licensing our medicines at key value inflection points during development, thus avoiding the need to build the large, complex, inefficient organizations associated with fully integrated pharmaceutical companies. We also demand more of every employee at Ionis and do not tolerate mediocrity. We have been remarkably successful in achieving these goals. Today we have over 40 new medicines in development; one medicine in development per 11 employees. And we believe this productivity is sustainable. We have consistently added, and plan to continue to add, three to five new medicines to the pipeline every year without significant increases in the number of employees.

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Our compensation system. By design, Ionis demands more of every employee, particularly the middle and senior level leaders. This requires us to design our compensation system to recruit, motivate and retain outstanding individuals. Here too, we have been successful. Our average employee turnover rate over the last five years (reflected as of the third quarter each year) has averaged 8.4% per year, while the average turnover in the San Diego/La Jolla area for biotech/pharmaceutical companies over this period was 16.2% according to a survey published by Radford – an Aon Hewitt Company. Given the uniqueness and complexity of our technology, it is critical to retain the knowledge and experience of outstanding long service employees. The experience and seniority of our employees is as critical to our future success as it has been to the success we have enjoyed to date.

Our vision. At Ionis our vision is clear and designed to create sustainable long-term value through innovation and to transform the lives of generations of patients in need across a wide variety of diseases. Our vision is to:

work with the understanding that patients depend on us;
continuously maintain an environment of cutting-edge innovation;
create and constantly advance a more efficient drug discovery platform – antisense technology;
create a business model and culture committed to creating long-term value through innovation;
broaden, deepen and advance our pipeline of antisense medicines;
demand more of every employee – more commitment, more knowledge, more intensity, more innovation and more productivity;
aggressively manage average and below average performance so every employee produces more; and
demand great performance and pay for that performance.

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Summary of Compensation Practices

Below we summarize some of our compensation practices, both the practices we implement because we believe they are consistent with our vision and building long-term stockholder value (see “What We Do” below), and those we choose not to implement as we believe they are counter to our vision and building long-term stockholder value (see “What We Don’t Do” below):

What We Do
What We Don’t Do
Demand more of every employee: more commitment, more knowledge, more intensity, more innovation, more productivity
Do not guarantee a cash bonus – cash bonuses can, and have been, zero
Reward productivity and performance
Do not provide perquisites for any employees
Recognize the value of long-term employees and low turnover
Do not provide “gross-up” payments, other than for relocation
Use a balanced mix of fixed and variable cash incentives and long-term equity incentives
Do not allow pledging, shorting or hedging against our stock
Review compensation compared to the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of our peer group
Do not reprice or “cash-out” stock options without stockholder approval
Design our compensation philosophy and objectives to mitigate unnecessary or imprudent business risk taking
 
 
Set explicit and demanding objectives at the beginning of each year from which we measure performance for the year
 
 
Place a maximum limit on Performance Management By Objectives (MBO) awards
 
 
Set a strict budget for equity awards and salary increases
 
 
Set the size of equity awards based on individual and company performance
 
 
Require minimum vesting periods for equity awards
 
 
Maintain equity holding periods that require our executive officers and non-employee Board members to hold shares received from their RSUs until they meet certain ownership thresholds or no longer serve the Company
 
 
Maintain equity holding periods that require our employees to hold ESPP shares for a minimum of six months
 
 
Require our executive officers and VPs to trade Ionis’ stock through Rule 10b5-1 trading plans
 
 
Use a “double trigger” for cash payments and accelerated equity vesting for change of control
 
 
Use an executive “clawback” policy
 
 
Use an independent compensation consultant engaged by the Compensation Committee
 
 

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Compensation Overview and the Role of the Compensation Committee

We have designed our executive compensation program to attract and retain executives who can help us meet our business objectives and to motivate our executives to enhance long-term stockholder value. The Compensation Committee, with input from an independent compensation consultant, manages and oversees our executive compensation program. At the end of each year, and as otherwise required, the Compensation Committee approves the total compensation for each of our executive officers. In addition, the full Board reviews and approves the Compensation Committee’s recommendations regarding the compensation of executive officers.

The Compensation Committee’s responsibilities include:

reviewing and approving overall compensation strategy;
reviewing and approving corporate performance goals and objectives relevant to the compensation of our executive officers;
evaluating and recommending to the Board the compensation plans and programs advisable for Ionis, as well as modifying or terminating existing plans and programs;
establishing policies with respect to stock compensation arrangements;
reviewing and approving compensation arrangements for our executive officers, including our Chief Executive Officer;
reviewing and approving compensation arrangements for our Directors;
administering our stock-based awards and ESPP;
evaluating risks associated with our compensation policies and practices and assessing whether these risks are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on us;
selecting and retaining a qualified, independent compensation consultant;
performing other functions as may be necessary or convenient in the efficient discharge of the foregoing; and
reporting to the Board from time to time, or whenever it is called upon to do so.

As the SEC continues to adopt the final rules implementing and defining the Dodd-Frank legislation, Ionis’ management and the Compensation Committee will:

monitor the SEC’s adoption of the final rules and definitions; and
adjust Ionis’ compensation policies as necessary to satisfy the new rules.

Independent Compensation Consultant

The Compensation Committee has the authority and budget to hire an independent compensation consultant as it deems necessary. The Compensation Committee has retained Marsh & McLennan Agency (formerly Barney & Barney LLC) as its independent compensation consultant. For 2018, Marsh & McLennan Agency primarily provided the Compensation Committee advice in the following areas:

selecting the 2018 Executive Peer Group;
evaluating the pay mix for our executive officers;
evaluating short-term and long-term incentives for our executive officers; and
evaluating our equity utilization.

Marsh & McLennan Agency did not provide any additional services to us or our affiliates.

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Compensation Philosophy

Our compensation philosophy supports and rewards the characteristics and behaviors we believe will make us successful:


Pay for Performance. We incorporate a number of features into our compensation structure to mitigate the risk that our compensation policies and practices could encourage unnecessary or imprudent business risk taking. We use a combination of compensation vehicles that provide a balanced mix of fixed and variable cash incentives, and long-term stock incentives. Our Performance Management By Objective (“MBO”) awards are not guaranteed (i.e., are 100% at risk) and include a multiplier, or performance factor, based on Ionis’ and the employee’s performance. Therefore, if either Ionis or the employee performs poorly, the Performance MBO can be, and has been, zero.

CEO Pay Ratio. An executive officer’s salary plus bonus represents the officer’s total cash compensation. Our philosophy has been to have the CEO’s total cash compensation be between 20-30 times the lowest levels of compensation received by an employee. Dr. Crooke’s total cash compensation, over the last three years, was on average approximately 30 times that of the average cash compensation for our lowest level employees and 2.26 times greater than the average of our other executive officers.

We cover the specific elements of our compensation structure in more detail below.

Business Objectives

As noted above, our vision is clear and is designed to promote long-term creation of value through innovation and to bring benefit to generations of patients with many diseases. Our vision is to:

work with the understanding that patients depend on us;
continuously maintain an environment of cutting-edge innovation;
create and constantly advance a more efficient drug discovery platform – antisense technology;
create a business model and culture committed to creating long-term value through innovation;
broaden, deepen and advance our pipeline of antisense medicines;
demand more of every employee − more commitment, more knowledge, more intensity, more innovation, more productivity;
aggressively manage average and below average performance so that every employee produces more; and
demand great performance and pay for that performance.

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Overview of Our Compensation Program

      Drug discovery and development across a portfolio of many medicines (currently over 40 for Ionis) is a long process that spans many years, where decisions we make today can have a positive or negative consequence five years, ten years, and even further into the future. As such, it is essential we set goals that incentivize our employees to execute our long-term strategy, because we believe our long-term strategy should continue to reward our stockholders into the future.

For us to retain our technology leadership and effectively manage the technical complexity and broad scope of our development pipeline, our most senior executives and the members of their teams must advance multiple drug strategies and collaborative partnerships in parallel and consistently over many years, versus emphasizing one or two at the expense of others that deserve attention. As a result, other than stock price, budget and our annual financial guidance to Wall Street, we currently do not use financial-based metrics as objectives, such as earnings per share, because financial metrics typically overly emphasize two or three annual business metrics and ignore the complexity of the tasks we are undertaking. By taking this approach, we avoid the temptation to deviate from creating fundamental long-term value to meet a short-term metric.

We structure our corporate objectives so they are results driven rather than task driven. We typically include a number of objectives that are based on achieving positive data in the clinic. For example, in 2018 we had corporate objectives to make our relationship with Novartis successful with one of the measures being to achieve positive data from a Phase 2 dose-ranging study, and to advance our pipeline with one of the measures being to achieve positive proof-of-concept on five or more medicines. These types of objectives only reward our employees if the data are positive – we do this to encourage the prudent spending of stockholder money on development decisions. In other words, we want to structure our objectives to reward success based on judgment, rather than the making of “bad bets.”

At the beginning of each year, we set aggressive corporate objectives, including objective measures, that our Board approves. On at least a quarterly basis, the Board evaluates our progress in achieving these objectives. We define excellent performance as a year in which we have met most of our objectives.

Importance of Tenure; Our Investment in Knowledge-Rich Employees

It takes a significant period of time and a substantial investment to recruit and develop employees who possess the experience and talent necessary to lead at Ionis given our transformative technology, innovative business strategy and complex drug development pipeline. Senior executives must have experience with all aspects of our business to be effective leaders. Our drug technology is a “platform technology,” which means the more knowledge and experience an employee has with our technology platform, the better equipped she or he is to create value at Ionis. Given the uniqueness and complexity of our technology, it is critical to retain the knowledge and experience of outstanding long service employees. The experience and seniority of our employees is critical to our future success. For these reasons, it is our objective to attract and retain the best talent available and to invest in those individuals who deliver long-term productivity.

Long tenure among a dedicated and highly skilled workforce, combined with the highest performance standards, contributes to our leadership in the industry and serves the interests of stockholders.
Our focus on retention is coupled to a strong belief that executive talent most often should be developed and promoted from within Ionis.
The long tenure of high-performing executive officers reflects this strategy at all levels of the organization.
Our named executive officers for 2018 have on average approximately 24 years and as much as 30 years of tenure at Ionis.
Our other officers who served in 2018 have on average over 15 years of tenure at Ionis.

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The Company has carefully evaluated and selected each of our executive officers through a rigorous performance assessment process over a long career. In their current assignments, they remain subject to a challenging annual performance assessment in which they must continue to meet the highest standards or be reassigned or separated from the Company.

To recognize our employees who deliver long-term productivity, in 2018 we implemented a tenure award called the “Commitment to Ionis Award.” This is a cash award to thank our employees, including our named executive officers, for their commitment to the Company. The amount of the award correlates to the employee’s length of service with the Company and is paid on the employee’s milestone anniversary as shown below. When we implemented these awards in 2018, every employee with five or more years of service who was not scheduled to receive a Commitment to Ionis Award in 2018 or 2019 received a one-time “catch-up” award for one-half of the amount of the milestone award immediately preceding his or her actual length of service.

Years of Service
Award
5
$5,000
10
$10,000
20
$20,000
30
$30,000

Elements of Executive Compensation

      Employees in our organization do not share either accountability or responsibility equally for strategic and/or tactical decisions. It is well ingrained in our culture that not everyone should share the same level of risk/reward for the consequences of these decisions. As a result, we have structured the various components of our compensation system to reflect accountability both for the successes and failures (both long-term and short-term) of Ionis and our employees. We pay our senior management team for results and their use of judgment in executing the strategies they have established. Therefore, the more senior a person becomes within Ionis, the more the person’s cash compensation will be “at risk.” We compensate the more junior employees for accomplishing their work well and, therefore, a lower portion of their cash compensation is “at risk.”

Our executive officers’ total compensation consists of four elements:

(1)base salary,
(2)Performance MBO – performance-based, at-risk cash compensation, no portion of which is guaranteed,
(3)stock-based compensation, and
(4)the same benefits, including 401(k) matching, that we provide to all employees.

The Performance MBO – performance-based, at-risk cash compensation – is the only element that does not apply to all employees. Employees at the director level and above are eligible to receive Performance MBO awards.

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We consider many factors in determining the amounts we grant to our executives for each of the first three compensation elements listed above. These factors include:

 
company-wide performance, including achievement of pre-established corporate objectives;

 
the Compensation Committee’s assessment of our CEO’s and executive officers’ individual performance;
 
competitive compensation practices;
 
increased efficiencies and process improvements;
 
effective collaboration and teamwork;
 
individual expertise, skills and knowledge;
 
the need to retain and motivate;
 
the impact an individual’s judgment has on our success or failure; and
 
the advice of the Compensation Committee’s independent compensation consultant.

The Compensation Committee relies on these and other factors such as general economic conditions, industry conditions, and the Compensation Committee’s collective business judgment in setting and/or approving the appropriate increases. We do not have specific weightings assigned to these factors, as the importance of each factor can vary among the executive officers and from year to year.

Executive Peer Group

The Compensation Committee considers relevant market pay practices when setting executive compensation to ensure our ability to recruit and retain high performing talent. Although we do not benchmark or target our compensation to any particular level in relation to the compensation of the Executive Peer Group (as defined below), the Compensation Committee compares the compensation opportunity for our named executive officers to similarly-situated executives at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of the Executive Peer Group (as defined below) as a “market check” to ensure, in its judgment, that the named executive officers’ compensation remains appropriate. The Executive Peer Group data is just one factor considered in the annual compensation approval process, in addition to the factors described above under “Elements of Executive Compensation.”

The Compensation Committee, in consultation with its independent compensation consultant, evaluated and selected a peer group of 20 life science companies for evaluating Ionis’ compensation (the “Executive Peer Group”). The Compensation Committee reviews the compensation of our named executive officers against the Executive Peer Group’s executive compensation to ensure that our compensation is competitive and to inform and shape its decision-making when setting compensation. The Compensation Committee uses these data to inform and shape decision-making but does not strictly adhere to quantitative benchmarks.

The Executive Peer Group, which the Compensation Committee reviews on an annual basis, consists of companies that generally:

are similar to Ionis in terms of certain factors, including one or more of the following: size (i.e., revenue, market capitalization), industry and stage of development;
have named executive officer positions that are comparable to ours in terms of breadth, complexity and scope of responsibilities; and
compete with us for executive talent.

The Executive Peer Group generally does not include companies headquartered outside the United States (because compensation and benefit practices are generally different outside the United States, the comparable compensation data for the named executive officers is not available and cost of living is different) or companies in industries whose compensation programs are not comparable to our programs, such as non-life science companies.

In May 2018, the Compensation Committee reviewed the Executive Peer Group using the criteria listed above and publicly available data as of April 2018. The Compensation Committee noted Ionis’ market capitalization was approximately $6.2 billion and revenue for the year ending December 31, 2017 was

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approximately $500 million. As part of this process, the Compensation Committee looked at companies in Ionis’ industry with market capitalizations of between $3 billion and $12 billion, and revenue less than $1 billion, including looking at companies that identified Ionis as a peer, so called “reverse peers.” Based on this evaluation, the Compensation Committee added Exact Sciences Corp., bluebird bio, Inc. and Sarepta Therapeutics to the Executive Peer Group, as these companies fell within the market capitalization and revenue ranges and were in Ionis’ sector. Exact Sciences Corp. and bluebird bio, Inc. were also reverse peers. Additionally, the Compensation Committee removed Opko Health because this company fell well below the market capitalization range and removed Jazz Pharmaceuticals and United Therapeutics because these companies reported revenue well above $1 billion for the year ending December 31, 2017.

The following table lists the companies in the 2018 Executive Peer Group, along with Ionis’ rankings among these companies, based on market capitalization and financial data reported by each company for the most recently-reported fiscal year at the time the Compensation Committee selected the Executive Peer Group in May 2018.

Company (ticker)
Annual Revenues
(in millions)
Market
Capitalization
(in millions)
Stage of Lead Drug
Acadia Pharmaceuticals (ACAD)
$124.9
$2,952.9
Market
Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO)
$43.0
$4,641.4
Market
Akorn (AKRX)
$841.0
$2,376.2
Market
Alkermes (ALKS)
$903.4
$9,376.2
Market
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY)
$89.9
$12,079.7
Market
bluebird bio (BLUE)
$35.4
$10,753.2
Phase III
Clovis Oncology (CLVS)
$55.5
$3,032.2
Market
Exact Sciences Corp (EXAS)
$266.0
$5,664.8
Market
Exelixis (EXEL)
$452.5
$7,135.1
Market
Horizon Pharma (HZNP)
$1,056.2
$2,541.0
Market
Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT)
$131.0
$1,600.8
NDA Filed
Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD)
$298.3
$1,937.1
Market
Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND)
$141.1
$3,356.7
Market
Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR)
$307.7
$16,553.8
Market
Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX)
$161.6
$7,682.6
NDA Filed
Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA)
$22.5
$2,239.6
NDA Filed
Sarepta (SRPT)
$154.6
$4,642.8
Market
Seattle Genetics (SGEN)
$482.3
$8,339.8
Market
Tesaro (TSRO)
$223.3
$3,143.6
NDA Filed
The Medicines Company (MDCO)
$44.8
$2,448.4
Market
Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IONS)
$507.7(1)
$6,137.1
Market
Ionis’ Ranking
4
8
NA
Ionis’ Percentile Rank
85%
65%
NA
(1)As reported in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017, prior to our adoption of FASB Topic ASC 606.

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Our Productivity vs. Industry Peers

      All companies in all industries strive to be more productive than their peers. Leadership management and compensation systems are all focused on enhancing long-term productivity. However, measuring productivity is challenging, particularly in biotechnology.

 
      Even for established R&D-based pharmaceutical companies for which the comparator group is obvious, comparisons of productivity are challenging. While revenues and profits per employee may be good measures for a portion of the equation, they provide little insight into potential for topline sales growth and no insight into innovation, which is the foundation for long-term sustainable growth. To provide insight into these attributes, measures of the size, maturity and potential value of the drug pipeline as well as the number of issued patents (such as medicines per employee or patents per employee) are useful and, viewed in the context of the Company’s financial performance, they help show a comprehensive picture of the Company’s productivity and strength. We have historically been, and continue to be, at the top of the Executive Peer Group in these measures.

In 2018, a number of achievements demonstrated our productivity and strength:

We obtained approval to market TEGSEDI in the U.S., EU and Canada for the treatment of a devastating disease – polyneuropathy caused by hereditary TTR amyloidosis.
We earned an all-time high for revenue, substantially exceeding our 2018 financial guidance and achieving our third consecutive year of non-GAAP operating income, despite receiving a Complete Response Letter for a medicine we hoped to commercialize in 2018.
We achieved these financial successes while advancing a diverse pipeline of over 40 potentially transformative medicines, ten of which are advancing toward pivotal studies by the end of 2020, with four of those expected to enter pivotal studies by the end of 2019.
While successfully advancing our pipeline and technology, we aggressively invested in commercializing TEGSEDI globally, achieving sales of over $2 million in the first partial quarter of being on the market.

Our business model and efficient platform enabled us to accomplish these robust results and they set us apart from our peers.

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We do more with less. With a workforce far smaller than most of our peers in the industry, we do more: more targets, more mechanisms, more organs, more routes of delivery and more issued patents per employee. We are the innovation leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics and will aim to continue to be, thereby creating value for patients and stockholders in 2018 and beyond.


Revenue Growth; Financial Performance

Additional evidence of our productivity and the benefit of our business strategy is reflected by our strong financial position. Ionis ended 2018 in a very strong financial position, with 2018 revenues of $600 million, a more than 15% increase from 2017, and Ionis’ seventh consecutive year of revenue growth. For the third year in a row, Ionis was profitable, with non-GAAP10 operating income in 2018 of $70 million. This success is driven by the strength of our business strategy, which leverages numerous sources of revenue, with multiple opportunities for upside, while reducing risk.


*2016 and 2017 revised for FASB Topic ASC 606 adjustment.
10We use “non-GAAP” in place of “pro-forma” when discussing our financial results that exclude non-cash compensation expense related to equity awards because we believe that non-GAAP financial results better represent the economics of our business and how we manage our business.

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Compensation Allocation/Pay Mix

A key element of our compensation philosophy is to monitor and adjust our pay mix for our senior management team so the pay mix is less heavily weighted on fixed compensation (salary) and more heavily weighted on at-risk cash compensation and long-term equity incentive compensation. As part of the Compensation Committee’s review of our total pay mix for executive officers, the Compensation Committee focuses on the following:

A significant portion of cash compensation is at risk. The Compensation Committee structures cash compensation such that a significant proportion of our CEO’s, COO’s and other named executive officers’ cash compensation is at risk;
More of total compensation is long-term equity. The Compensation Committee structures the total pay mix for our CEO and other named executive officers such that more of their compensation is in the form of long-term equity compensation; and
Less of total compensation is salary. The Compensation Committee strives to have the total pay mix for our CEO and other named executive officers such that less of their compensation is in the form of salary. For example, the Compensation Committee did not increase salaries for the CEO and most of our named executive officers for each of 2011, 2012 and 2013 to allow an increasing percentage of total compensation to be at risk.

An annual review of our total pay mix helps Ionis compete for and retain talent in the competitive marketplace and maintain compensation equity and balance among positions with similar responsibilities. The target pay mix for our named executive officers is a result of the compensation targets that emphasize long-term compensation versus short-term compensation. Actual salary levels, annual Performance MBO awards and long-term incentive awards vary based on one or more of the following: an individual’s responsibilities, tenure in a particular position, experience, individual performance and company performance.

The following chart illustrates the portions of actual total direct compensation for the named executive officers11 that are composed of base salary, annual Performance MBO and long-term equity ($ shown in thousands) for 2018:


11Excludes information for B. Lynne Parshall, who ceased to be an executive officer of the Company on January 15, 2018. Ms. Parshall’s compensation for 2018 is discussed on pages 61, 63 through 67, and 69 through 74 of this Proxy Statement.

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% of Total Direct Compensation
Name
Year
Base
Salary
Annual
Performance
MBO
Long-Term
Equity
Base
Salary
%
Annual
Performance
MBO %
Long-
Term
Equity
%
Stanley T. Crooke
Chairman, CEO and President
 
2018
 
$
883
 
$
759
 
$
5,944
 
 
12
%
 
10
%
 
78
%
Elizabeth L. Hougen
SVP, Finance and CFO
 
2018
 
$
448
 
$
246
 
$
2,052
 
 
16
%
 
9
%
 
75
%
Brett Monia
COO
 
2018
 
$
508
 
$
352
 
$
3,374
 
 
12
%
 
8
%
 
80
%
Richard S. Geary
SVP, Development
 
2018
 
$
475
 
$
262
 
$
2,184
 
 
16
%
 
9
%
 
75
%
Patrick R. O’Neil
SVP, Legal, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
 
2018
 
$
468
 
$
237
 
$
2,053
 
 
17
%
 
9
%
 
74
%

Base Salary

The fixed component of our compensation structure is base salary. We categorize our jobs in a system called broad-banding. That is to say there are relatively few job levels within Ionis, specifically ten levels, but the scope of responsibility and accountability an employee may assume is broad. We do not have salary ranges, and therefore we do not set salary minimums or maximums. It is therefore possible that someone may be in a lower job level, but his or her salary may reach levels that exceed those of someone in a higher job level. We have chosen not to have salary ranges because years of experience have shown that this approach often creates unnecessary bureaucracy and a loss of talented individuals. Our aim is to attract and retain the most highly qualified employees in an extremely competitive market.

      We determine base compensation levels for all our employees primarily by market forces. Accordingly, the Compensation Committee believes that it is important when making its compensation decisions to be informed as to the current practices of comparable publicly held companies with which we compete for top talent. To this end, the Compensation Committee reviews market and peer company data, which includes competitive information relating to the mix and levels of compensation for executives in the life sciences industry. We obtain this information for the Executive Peer Group based on recent public filings with the SEC. In addition, we also review data from the Radford Global Life Sciences Survey, which is a summary of compensation data submitted by over 500 life sciences companies. The Compensation Committee uses these data to inform and shape its decision-making but does not strictly adhere to quantitative benchmarks. In addition, we assess whether the scope of job responsibilities and internal equity warrant a given base salary.

We guarantee base salary to all employees as wages for hours worked. It represents consideration for the performance of job responsibilities. This portion of total cash compensation is not at risk and may increase as a result of how well an individual performs his or her job responsibilities.

Each year our employees are eligible to receive an appropriate merit salary increase. The Compensation Committee sets a Company-wide merit increase budget percentage based on Ionis’ performance and external factors such as the average merit budget of comparable companies. The actual merit increase award for each

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employee, including our executive officers, will vary depending upon the respective employee’s contributions to Ionis. For example, for 2018 performance the Company-wide merit increase budget was 3.3%, with