Controversial Teva chairman bows out as board revamp continues

Teva Chairman Dr. Phillip Frost--Courtesy of Teva

In January, Teva ($TEVA) chairman Dr. Phillip Frost promised some changes to the company's board in response to investor pressure. But it wasn't until Wednesday that he announced his own exit would be among them.

As Frost wrote in a letter to shareholders, he'll be on his way out "approximately by the end of this year," with Teva's corporate governance and nominating committee working on a succession plan. Frost, Teva's largest individual shareholder with a stake worth $752 million, was due to retire in about a year, Reuters notes.

"With the progress we have made, and continue to make, at Teva, I have advised the board that I believe it will be appropriate for me to step down as chairman," he said.

Teva's board has been in the spotlight ever since last October, when conflicts between it and then-CEO Jeremy Levin reportedly spurred his departure. While Frost characterized the differences between the two sides as "subtle," others say the board interference--in particular from Florida-based Frost--was more extreme. "Levin would have to go to Miami to kiss the ring each time he wanted a decision," one external consultant told the Financial Times.

Ensuing controversy stirred up angst among shareholders, one of whom, Benny Landa, called for a smaller, more experienced board. On that, Teva has delivered: In addition to reducing its size by two members, the generics giant's board has also proposed longtime Pfizer ($PFE) vet Jean-Michel Halfon for election.

"Jean-Michel is a leading pharmaceutical industry executive with over 35 years of global pharmaceutical industry experience and a distinguished record of involvement in key healthcare issues, including in emerging markets," Frost wrote. He "will bring outstanding skills, experience and perspectives to the boardroom to help guide Teva as it continues its efforts to reshape the company for the future."

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