Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai to resign in May, replaced by former Bristol-Myers Squibb executive

Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai is to resign in May, chairman Phillip Frost announced Monday. Yanai will be replaced by Jeremy Levin, a former senior executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The drugmaker noted that the succession plan is the result of a decision by Yanai to "move on to a new phase in his career after five years" in his role at Teva. Israeli media suggested a number of reasons for Yanai's departure, including a number of offers in business and a potential foray into politics. The sources also speculated that Yanai had chosen 2012 to resign as it is expected to be a good year for Teva, and therefore an appropriate time to depart the company.

In his role at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Levin managed the company’s portfolio of alliances and had direct responsibility for strategy, alliances and transactions. Prior to joining Bristol-Myers Squibb, Levin served as global head of business development and strategic alliances at Novartis and was previously CEO of Cadus Pharmaceuticals. Frost said Levin’s "combination of vision, creative energy and an effective team-building management style make him an ideal choice to lead Teva into its next growth phase."

Commenting on Yanai's resignation, IBI analyst Natalie Gottlieb noted that "for some time now, investors have been suggesting that he should be replaced. Therefore, the timing might be surprising, but the action is not." She further stated that the industry will likely see the appointment of Levin as positive because he "comes from the field of innovation at a time when Teva's most important task is to successfully merge Teva and Cephalon." Clal Finance analyst Jonathan Kreizman remarked that "we believe that the appointment of a manager from the pharma field…is the correct course to take," adding that "following the acquisition of Cephalon, [Teva’s] success in innovative drugs will be a decisive factor in its future. In this respect, the tremendous experience that Levin brings with him from Novartis and [Bristol-Myers Squibb] will most definitely help the company."

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