Israel's Pharma Giant Teva Makes CEO Offer to French-born Exec Pascal Soriot

Pascal Soriot, now the CEO of AstraZeneca, has agreed in principle to the Teva's offer

Pascal Soriot
Pascal Soriot Bloomberg

Pascal Soriot, the CEO of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is the leading candidate to be the CEO of Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

The French-born Soriot, 58 has been serving as AstraZeneca's CEO since 2012. The Anglo-Swedish drug company has been active in Israel since 2009.  He is a veterinarian by training.

Teva chairman Sol Barer, who heads the search committee for the new CEO, and other Teva officials have met with Soriot and he has expressed his agreement to accept the job. 

Teva was left without a permanent CEO in February after Erez Vigodman stepped down, leaving new management to try to restore confidence in the world's biggest generic drugmaker after a series of missteps. Then chairman Yitzhak Peterburg replaced Vigodman on a temporary basis.

Chief Financial Officer Eyal Desheh also resigned at the end of June.

Soriot is expected to earn twice as much as Vigodman and receive a bonus upon signing the contract, estimated at about $20 million, and the financial terms were still being discussed.

Erez Vigodman, former chief executive officer of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 12, 2014.
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Soriot would be Teva’s second non-Israeli CEO. When asked whether Teva might waive its requirement for the CEO to be based in Israel, Barer said in May: "We are looking around the world for the best candidate. We are committed once we find that candidate to do what it takes to bring that candidate to Teva."

Shares in Teva were up 3.3 percent at $32 in late New York trade, while AstraZeneca's shares in New York were up 1.3 percent at $33.67.

No one could immediately be reached at AstraZeneca for comment.

Teva said it did not comment on market rumors. The company's chairman, Sol Barer, said in May his top priority was the continuing global search to identify a candidate with "deep and broad pharmaceutical experience" to serve as Teva's permanent CEO.

Soriot has led AstraZeneca to a company value of $86 billion, 24.5 percent increase since the beginning of the year and 84 percent above its market cap when he took over as CEO. AstraZeneca is now trading at its all-time high stock price, but nonetheless Soriot has been in conflict with shareholders over his salary. In April 2016, 39 percent of shareholders voted against his $17.5 million compensation package, though this vote had no practical effect.