Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world's biggest seller of generics medicines, named Kare Schultz as its new chief executive, choosing an industry veteran to navigate a series of daunting challenges, from falling drug prices to the company's high debt.
The appointment of Mr. Schultz, a Dane, ends a months-long period during which Teva had no permanent top executive. It recently shuffled its board and is shedding assets, while coping with new competitors. Teva shares have been under pressure for months.
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The new chief executive joins from Denmark's H. Lundbeck A/S, where he was president and CEO since May 2015. He has also worked as chief operating officer of Novo Nordisk A/S, the world's biggest producer of insulin.
Teva Chairman Sol Barer said the new chief executive has everything that the firm was looking for in a new leader: Global pharmaceutical experience, a restructuring background and knowledge of generic and speciality medicines.
The new chief also understands the "cultural framework" of working for a big pharma firm that like Novo Nordisk is also considered a national champion, Mr. Barer said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
"This is a critical time in Teva's history. We had to make sure we got the right person," he said.
Mr. Schultz, 56, joins an executive board at Teva that in recent years has fought over whether the firm should focus on generics drugs or invest in speciality medicines, as competition has increased for its main blockbuster drug.
The new chief executive would review the firm's operations before articulating a new strategy as soon as possible, Mr. Barer said.
Teva has been searching for a new, permanent CEO since February, when former boss Erez Vigodman departed the company for undisclosed reasons. Yitzhak Peterburg has stood in as interim CEO since then.
There has been plenty of speculation about who might take the reins at Teva, with AstraZeneca PLC CEO Pascal Soriot cited at one stage as a contender by local media.
Teva's share price rallied on news of Mr. Schultz's appointment, rising roughly 8% in early trading Monday in Tel Aviv. AstraZeneca shares rose 2%.
In August, Teva lost about a quarter of its market value in one day on mounting concerns about the future of the company after it cut its full-year outlook and slashed its dividend, blaming the rapid deterioration of the U.S. generic-drug business.
At H. Lundbeck, Teva said Mr. Schultz was credited with leading restructuring initiatives and launching a turnaround that has put the company on track to report record revenue and earnings. He has also worked as a consultant at McKinsey.
Mr. Schultz will relocate to Israel and be based out of Teva's Petah Tikva headquarters, Teva said. It didn't give a date for when he will join.
--Ian Walker contributed to this artlcle
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 11, 2017 06:31 ET (10:31 GMT)