Teva CEO Denies Rift With Board, Resignation Rumors

Management reportedly sent a letter to the board telling them to stop interfering in the implementation of the company’s efficiency measures.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its CEO Jeremy Levin denied a media report that Levin was considering resigning due to a rift with the company's board of directors.

"I categorically deny the rumors suggesting that I am considering resigning from the management of Teva," Levin said in an emailed statement to Reuters on Monday. "We are talking about a report without any basis."

He said the opposite was true, that he has taken on Israeli citizenship and plans to continue to manage and grow Teva.

Channel 2 television quoted unnamed sources as saying there were strong differences of opinion between Levin and Chairman Phillip Frost over the implementation of Teva's new strategy.

"These are baseless claims," Teva, the world's largest generic drugmaker, said in a separate statement.

Channel 2 had reported Sunday evening that Teva's board and management are at odds due to the public criticism over the company's tax benefits and planned layoffs.

The TV station reported that Teva's senior management sent a sharply worded letter to the company's board of directors last week criticizing the latter's involvement in managing the company's affairs. The letter reportedly criticized the board's behavior following the announcement of the planned layoffs. Some board members reportedly wanted to stick with the original layoff plan, while others reportedly wished to compromise with workers.

"Although we are in the initial stages of implementing our strategy, the lack of unity among the board of directors and CEO hurts our ability to make the necessary changes," Channel 2 reported the letter as saying.

It urged the board to "reconsider its intervention in the daily course of business that we believe has become common in recent months and prevents management from being able to manage Teva effectively," Channel 2 said.

Channel 2 quoted sources close to Levin who said he would resign if the company's board did not stop interfering with the planned efficiency measures. It also reported a break in the relations between Levin and Frost.

Levin's aides say, according to Channel 2, that Frost is trying to push him out and that in recent days Levin was considering retiring if the situation continues.

Teva said Levin and Frost continue to work together.

Earlier this month, Teva said it would cut 5,000 jobs - 10% of its workforce - accelerating a cost-cutting plan as it prepares for lower-priced competition to its best-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. Teva's restructuring plan is expected to save the company $1.5 billion a year.

Levin took the helm of Teva in May 2012 after the company had grown rapidly through acquisitions. He promised to reshape the company by developing its own medicines, amid increasing competition in the generics market, and to divest businesses in non-core areas.

"I have full confidence in the professional team that will carry out ... the strategic plan we formulated together," he said.

Moti Milrod