Teva Pharma denies report CEO mulling resignation over rift

JERUSALEM Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:57am EDT

JERUSALEM Oct 28 (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has denied an Israeli media report that Chief Executive Jeremy Levin was considering resigning due to a rift with the company's board of directors.

"These are baseless claims," Israel-based Teva, the world's largest generic drugmaker, said in an emailed statement on Monday.

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.

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.

Earlier this month, Teva said it would cut 5,000 jobs - 10 percent of its workforce - accelerating a cost-cutting plan as it prepares for lower-priced competition to its best-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.

According to Channel 2, Teva's management wrote a letter to the board saying that "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."

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.

It noted that part of the problem stemmed from conflicting ideas of laying off workers in Israel. Under the plan, hundreds of Israeli employees were set to lose their jobs but under pressure from the government and a trade union, Levin agreed to coordinate any reductions with the union and state.

Levin's aides claim, 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.

"All decisions made by the company's management, led by its CEO, have been made with consultation and agreement of the board," Teva added.

Shares of Tel Aviv-listed Teva were down 0.75 percent at midday in a flat broader market.

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