Teva Pharmaceutical expected to name Vigodman CEO

Erez Vigodman led turnaround of Israeli corporation.
Erez Vigodman led turnaround of Israeli corporation.
Posted: January 04, 2014

Two Israeli publications reported Thursday that Erez Vigodman will be named the new chief executive officer of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which has searched for a leader since Jeremy Levin departed in October after disagreements with the board of directors over how to operate the drugmaker.

A member of the Teva board, Vigodman is CEO of Israel-based Makhteshim Agan Industries, which bills itself as the world's leader in "branded off-patent crop protection solutions."

Teva, which leads the world in generic-drug revenue, has headquarters near Tel Aviv. It has several facilities in Philadelphia's suburbs and employs about 2,300 people in Pennsylvania.

"We do not comment on market rumors," Teva Americas spokeswoman Denise Bradley said via e-mail after being asked to confirm Vigodman's appointment.

The board dispute was the latest episode in a difficult period for Teva, which announced in 2012 plans to cut $1.5 billion to $2 billion from annual operating costs and then said in 2013 it would accelerate the process by cutting 5,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its global workforce.

Despite its reputation for selling generics, Teva's most profitable medication is the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, an original that will soon go off patent and face competition from other generic-drug firms' copycat versions.

On Thursday, the Israeli publications Globes and TheMarket reported that Vigodman would be announced as Teva's leader later in January or in early February, when the company reports 2013 full-year and fourth-quarter financial results.

An accountant and economist by training at Tel Aviv University, Vigodman joined Makhteshim Agan as CEO in 2010 and led a turnaround. In 2011, China National Chemical Corp. bought 60 percent of MA, which competes with agricultural chemical companies such as Monsanto and Bayer. The turnaround, however, included closing production facilities.

From 2001 through 2009, Vigodman was CEO of Strauss Group Ltd., an Israel-based food company with 14,000 employees.

"Although investors may express some skepticism if Mr. Vigodman is selected due to his lack of experience in the pharma industry," Citi Research analyst Liav Abraham wrote in a note to clients, "we note his successful record in the execution of turnaround strategies at large publicly traded companies, which is relevant for Teva, as the company faces the loss of exclusivity of Copaxone and implementation of an extensive $2 billion cost-reduction program."


dsell@phillynews.com

215-854-4506 @phillypharma

www.inquirer.com/phillypharma

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