Restructuring

Buzz: Teva Chairman Sol Barer is getting busy with a top-to-bottom rehab plan for a wounded giant

Credit: Flash 90 2013


Rumors about big changes in the works for Teva are reaching a fever pitch.

Today we got confirmation of an earlier newspaper report that longtime CFO Eyal Desheh is headed out the door. That followed a report from Bloomberg that the company’s specialty cancer drug portfolio is being put on the market. And the rumor mill shows every sign of heating up even more in the wake of reports that the company is prepping thousands of job cuts after CEO Erez Vigodman left the company a little more than two months ago.

Sol Barer

Some longtime observers of the company — which has a generics group as well as a branded drug operation, with R&D — say it’s all badly overdue. Jeremy Levin tried and failed to make big changes during his short stint at Teva — which ended in 2013 — including an effort to acquire Receptos that had to be abandoned. (Receptos would later go to Celgene for $7.2 billion in 2015.)

But then Teva acquired the generics business from Allergan for $40.5 billion, completing the acquisition last summer — just as generics prices were crumbling. Left with a heavy debt and underperforming divisions, the focus now is on cashing in on noncore assets and slashing costs to right a listing ship.

There have also been reports that some 6,000 jobs are being cut in the reorganization, though the company has pushed back on that. Staff cuts will generally be handled through attrition by freezing new hires, Teva has said, as it hunts out economies and looks to shutter unprofitable operations.

Can a change-up on the board be far behind?

Sol Barer, a co-founder at Celgene, was named chairman in early February in the wake of Vigodman’s departure. And now he has put a lot on the table in a bid to set things right. One of those tasks on his to-do list involves finding a new CEO, who can select his own CFO to replace Desheh.


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