Eli Hurvitz
Eli HurvitzIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israeli industrialist Eli Hurvitz, who served as CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries until 2002 and continued as chairman until 2010, passed away on Monday evening at the age of 79.

Hurvitz had been fighting a serious illness and was hospitalized last week at the Tel Hashomer Hospital after his condition deteriorated.

He was born in Jerusalem in 1932 and moved with his family to Tel Aviv in 1934. In May 1948, he and his classmates were drafted by the newly formed Israel Defense Forces to fight in the War of Independence following Israel’s establishment as a state.

Hurvitz later studied economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and joined Assia Chemical Labs Ltd., a small firm of which his father-in-law was a managing partner, as a dish washer in the laboratory. After his graduation from Hebrew University in 1957 he began doing office work at Assia and moved to executive ranks. In 1964, Assia merged with Zori and in 1969 acquired a controlling interest in Teva.

In 1976, the three firms merged into Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. with Hurvitz as the CEO. He resigned as CEO in 2002 and continued as the company’s Chairman of the Board until his illness forced him to resign in 2010.

As CEO of Teva, Hurvitz turned the company into Israel’s largest generic pharmaceutical company and made it a leading world company in this field. He also served as chairman of the Israel Export Institute from 1974 to 1978, and in 1981 he was made president of the Israel Manufacturers Association, a position he held until 1986. In 1986 he was appointed chairman of the board of Bank Leumi and resigned from that position in 1987.

Hurvitz received the Israel Prize in 2002 for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said following the news of Hurvitz’s death, “Eli Hurvitz was one of the greatest industrialists the State of Israel ever had. He was noble, patriotic, and devoted to the development of Israeli economy and society.”

“I learned a lot from him, I admired his wisdom and achievements. I loved his warm personality. There was no better ambassador of Israeli entrepreneurship and spirit than him. I’ll miss this wonderful man,” added Netanyahu.