Who Is Likely to Head Makhteshim Agan as Teva Nears Naming Erez Vigodman CEO?

Leading candidates at the Israeli agrochemical maker are Deputy CEO Chen Lichtenstein and CEO Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East Ran Maidan.

The search for a new CEO to lead Makhteshim Agan Industries has intensified with reports of Erez Vigodman’s likely lateral move to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, replacing Jeremy Levin.

The leading candidates to succeed Vigodman at the Israeli agrochemical maker are Deputy CEO Chen Lichtenstein and CEO Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East Ran Maidan.

But dark-horse candidates Chief Commercial Officer and head of the Global Products and Marketing Division Ignacio Dominguez and CEO Americas Shaul Friedland are still in the race.

Friedland, in particular, is still considered in the running due to his success in reviving the flagging fortunes of Brazilian subsidiary Milenia Agrociencias, which had been weighing down the corporation’s overall performance.

An international recruitment agency began a search for Vigodman’s replacement more than a year ago. Lichtenstein, Maidan and Dominguez were each promoted to their current positions early in the process, with an eye to grooming a worthy successor.

Vigodman, 54, was hired to lead Makhteshim Agan in January 2010, at a time of eroding revenue and profits, mainly due to heavy losses at Milenia Agrociencias. He was expected to ready the company for its planned stock offering in early 2015 and remain for another year.

But Levin’s sudden departure from Teva in October changed Vigodman’s plans. Although there are two other leading candidates for the job, Vigodman’s appointment as Teva CEO is expected to precede the 32nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, which starts January 13.

Makhteshim Agan is owned by the state-owned China National Chemical Corporation (60%), and Israel’s Koor Industries (40%). Shareholders of both companies must approve a new permanent CEO; the board is authorized to name an acting CEO.

In the light of Vigodman’s presumed imminent appointment as CEO of Teva and the ongoing ownership change and restructuring of IDB Holding Corporation, this stipulation could add a twist to the proceedings.

As members as the boards of Koor’s parent companies IDB Holding Corp. and IDB Development Corporation, court-appointed financial expert Eyal Gabbai and court observer Hagai Ullman must approve a new permanent CEO for Makhteshim Agan, At the same time, Koor’s board, one of whose members is former IDB Holding Corp. chairman and controlling shareholder Nochi Dankner, must give its approval in the event the appointment is temporary only.

Roni Schitzer/Jini
Ofer Vaknin