Jeremy Levin
Jeremy LevinIsrael news photo: Tel Aviv University

Dr. Jeremy Levin was named new CEO for Teva Pharmaceuticals Monday, when Shlomo Yanai announced he is stepping down.

Dr. Levin, an American Jew, was at a Monday morning press conference called by Yanai and surprised observers not only by his being appointed CEO but also by his Hebrew, although less than fluent. He soon will make "aliyah" and become an Israeli citizen.

Yanai, who was in the IDF for 32 years and was disappointed that he did not reach the position of Chief of Staff, said that he wants to devote his energies to public service after serving five years as the head of Teva. He was immediately asked by reporters which political party he will join, but he said he will need six months to complete the changeover with Dr. Levin.

However, Voice of Israel government radio already launched a campaign on its Monday morning news and talk broadcasts to introduce Yanai as a potential political darling. His previous comments have marked him as being on the center-left.

Analysts said that investors are happy that Yanai has quit, having seen the company’s stock price collapse by nearly 50 percent the past two years. Yanai has voiced optimism that Teva can overcome the loss of income expected from generic drug competition to its blockbuster Copaxone drug that treats multuiple scerlosis.

His attempts to paint a nice picture over other disappointments in Teva’s own generic industry have disappointed financial markets.

Dr. Levin assured Israelis that Teva, headquartered in Petach Tikvah, part of metropolitan Tel Aviv, will remain in Israel.

Unlike Yanai, Dr. Levin has deep experience in the pharmaceutical industry and also was a practicing physician. Born in South Africa, he was educated at Cambridge and comes to Teva directly from Bristol-Myers, where he was vice president for strategy.