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Key Teva shareholder backs Vigodman as next CEO

Board director tipped to replace Jeremy Levin at Israeli pharma firm

Teva Erez VigodmanErez Vigodman has secured the backing of a key Teva shareholder as he jostles for the top job at Teva following the departure of Jeremy Levin.

Over the holiday period board director Vigodman (pictured right) reportedly emerged as one of the lead candidates to replace Levin, who left the company last October after 18 months in the job amid allegations of disagreements with Teva chairman Phillip Frost.

Vigodman's candidacy has now been supported by print entrepreneur Benny Landa, who has been trying to unite his fellow Teva shareholders in forcing through an overhaul of senior management at the firm, including a reduction in the size of the board.

Landa succeeded in securing the appointment of Amir Elstein as Teva's new vice-chairman late last year and was a supporter of Levin.

In a letter to fellow stockholders Landa said Vigodman is the right candidate for the job, despite a lack of pharma experience, as he will be "quick to learn from Teva's management team and customers."

Other candidates are said to include Eyal Desheh, who is acting CEO and long-running chief financial officer at Teva, and Israeli press reports suggest some 150 people have been considered for the position.

As well as serving on the board of Teva, Vigodman is also CEO of generic agrochemicals company Makhteshim Agan Industries and has been credited with returning the firm to profitability since taking over in 2010. Another former Teva CEO - Shlomo Yanai - also arrived from the agrochemicals company.

Analysts have suggested that Teva's situation at the moment is analogous to that of Makhteshim three years ago, with a core generics business facing profitability challenges and an excessive cost base.

Whoever ultimately accedes to the role of CEO will be given the task of implementing Levin's restructuring programme aimed at trimming $2bn off costs by 2017. Notably, Teva needs to prepare for the loss of patent protection to $4bn multiple sclerosis (MS) product Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), which could succumb to generic competition later this year in the US.

The product is already facing stiffer competition in the market following the introduction of oral MS therapies such as Biogen Idec's fast-growing Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).

Article by
Phil Taylor

7th January 2014

From: Sales

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