Landa: Teva CEO must have Israel connection

Benny Landa  photo: Eyal Izhar

The activist shareholder says an Israeli CEO is necessary to preserve Teva's Israeli character.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) activist shareholder Benny Landa has changed his opinion about what CEO the company should hire, according to what he told "Globes" yesterday. While Landa previously expressed support for hiring a senior executive from a major international pharma company, regardless of any connection to Israel, he has now changed his tune. "In view of Teva's difficulties and the leaks about the negotiations with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Sorio (with whom negotiations were held about hiring him as Teva's CEO, G.W.), it will be very difficult to bring an international CEO of the same caliber.

"A worthy CEO will probably want to take the job only if his motives include an element of patriotism, and Teva needs a CEO like that, because now, in contrast to the period before the crisis, there is really a danger to the Israeli character of the company."

Landa's comments are surprising, given all his criticism of the dominance of Israelis on Teva's board of directors. He frequently called on the Israeli directors to resign, and said that Teva should look for directors with international experience in the pharma industry. He complained about people bringing their friends to the board of directors, and sought to replace the veteran Israeli members of the board of directors with a new group less tied to the company's old guard.

Landa still supports the replacement of the veteran Israelis on the board of directors. He says that they are all excellent people, but unsuitable for formulating a new strategy for the company in its current plight. He would not oppose the replacement of the entire board at this stage, he says, if only for the sake of bringing a new spirit into the company.

Teva has replaced three directors twice since Landa began criticizing the board. In both cases, financial and pharma personnel were brought from the US: in 2015, when the board was led by then-chairman (now acting CEO) Yitzhak Peterburg, and in 2017, under new chairman Sol Barer.

Landa still advocates hiring a CEO with an innovative orientation, rather than a generics one. He wants Teva to invest less in generics, which he says is headed towards commoditization (intense competition and low profits), and more in ethical drugs.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - - on August 7, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Benny Landa  photo: Eyal Izhar
Benny Landa photo: Eyal Izhar
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