Is Teva’s CEO Departure Long Overdue?

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Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) saw its shares tumble on Tuesday after the company announced a changing of the guard for its CEO position. The company reported that Dr. Yitzhak Peterburg, who has served as chairman of Teva’s board of directors since January 2015, has been appointed interim president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Peterburg will be taking the spot of Erez Vigodman, who is also stepping down from the board.

The company has seen its shares massively decline over the course of this past year alone (down 45% in 2016). It seems like this CEO departure may have been long overdue.

Currently, the board is undertaking a search to identify a permanent CEO, with the assistance of a search firm.

Also in accordance with Israeli law, Dr. Peterburg has stepped down from his role as chairman in order to serve as interim CEO. Peterburg led the company’s innovative research and development efforts as Teva’s Group Vice President, Global Branded Products, from October 2010 until October 2011, after serving on Teva’s board of directors from 2009 until July 2010. Previously, he served as president and CEO of Cellcom Israel from 2003 to 2005; director general of Clalit Health Services, the leading health care provider in Israel, from 1997 to 2002; and CEO of Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, from 1995 to 1997.

Separately, the board elected Dr. Sol J. Barer, who has been a member of the Teva board since January 2015, as chairman. Dr. Barer was a founder of the biotechnology group at Celanese, later spun off as Celgene, where he served in top leadership roles from 1987 to 2011, including as chairman and CEO from 2007 to 2010.

Vigodman, commented on the departure:

I believe that now is the right time for me to step down. It has been a privilege to lead Teva, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. I am confident that the Company’s future is bright.

Dr. Peterburg added:

The Company is focusing on executing its strategic priorities to transform Teva, with immediate focus on realizing the cost synergies and strategic benefits of the Actavis Generics acquisition. I look forward to working with the entire Teva team to conduct a thorough review of the business to find additional opportunities to enhance value for shareholders. Teva has a deep bench of talented leaders and today’s announcement has no impact on our ability to execute going forward. With the strength of our generics pipeline, unique R&D capabilities and unparalleled footprint, coupled with our existing assets and growing pipeline in specialty medicines, I believe in Teva and the Company’s long-term growth prospects.

Shares of Teva were last seen down 4.5% at $32.80 on Tuesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $42.70 and a 52-week trading range of $32.11 to $59.35.