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The Boston Globe

Business

CEO of drug maker Teva out ahead job cuts

JERUSALEM — Israeli drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. announced Wednesday its CEO had resigned, following a public uproar over a contentious restructuring plan set to cut thousands of jobs worldwide.

In a statement, Teva said its board of directors and chief executive, Jeremy Levin, had agreed for him to step down. It gave no reason for the resignation, but the shakeup exposed cracks in the leadership of the world’s largest generic drug maker.

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The company’s statement was quickly disputed. Late Wednesday, Levin told Israeli Channel 10 TV: ‘‘I did not resign. I did not choose to leave the company.’’ He declined to comment further.

Teva’s chairman Phillip Frost also told Channel 10: ‘‘It just got to the point where the slight differences couldn’t be resolved. We thought it was better to part ways.’’

In an earlier statement announcing the resignation, Frost said the board and management were committed to ‘‘the planned acceleration of the company’s cost reduction program.’’

Israeli media reported that Levin’s downfall culminated months of tension between him and Frost. Those tensions intensified after the company said this month it would reduce its global workforce by about 10 percent — or 5,000 employees — as part of a restructuring plan.

The company has struggled in recent quarters with declining sales for both generic and brand-name drugs. The restructuring aims to slim the drug maker’s business and make it more efficient.

Israeli Channel 2 TV reported this week that Levin and Frost fought over how to implement the restructuring. The planned layoffs set off an uproar and sense of betrayal in Israel, which has boosted Teva with years of grants, subsidies and tax breaks.

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