Eli Hurvitz 311.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
“He was one of Israel’s great industrialists,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
said Tuesday, paying tribute to Eli Hurvitz, the man who turned Teva from a
small Israeli pharmaceutical company into the world’s largest maker of generic
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Hurvitz died Monday night at the age of 79, after fighting a long
battle with cancer. He had been hospitalized at Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Hospital
since November 13.
“He was noble, a complete patriot and very dedicated
to developing the Israeli economy and society,” said Netanyahu in one of the may
tributes that poured in during the day. “I learned much from him; I admired his
wisdom and achievements. I loved his warm personality. Israeli initiatives and
the Israeli spirit had no better ambassador.
I will miss this wonderful
Born in Jerusalem in 1932, Hurvitz served in the army during the
country’s war of independence and later lived on the Tel Katzir kibbutz. He
began his career in pharmaceuticals as a dishwasher for Assia Chemical Labs
while studying for a degree in economics at the Hebrew University in the
Hurvitz rose through the ranks to eventually head Assia, and
when that company merged with Teva and Zori in 1976 to form Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries, he was named as its chief executive.
Hurvitz served as CEO
until 2002 and then as chairman of the board from 2002-2010, when he resigned
after being diagnosed with cancer. During his time in charge of Teva, the
company grew through several large acquisitions and it branched out into
manufacturing branded drugs, such as Copaxone, which treats multiple
Teva board member Dan Suesskind recalled travelling incognito
with Hurvitz in 1980 to look at a factory of Israeli drugmaker Ikapharm before
buying the smaller company. The two were taken aback by Ikapharm’s expensively
built guardhouse, Suesskind said. Putting money into posh offices instead of manufacturing “didn’t fit our style,”
said Suesskind, who served alongside Hurvitz as chief financial officer from
1977 to 2008.
Hurvitz held many other positions outside of Teva, serving
as chairman of the Israel Export Institute from 1974-78, as president of the
Manufacturers Association from 1981-86, as chairman of Bank Leumi from 1986-87
and as chairman of the Israel Democracy Institute from 2002- 08, among others.
He was awarded the Israel Prize in 2002 for his contribution to the country. He
was awarded Go4Europe’s inaugural prize for lifetime achievement at their
conference in Tel Aviv three weeks ago, in what turned out to be his last public
appearance before his death.
Upon accepting the prize, Hurvitz
demonstrated his attention to long-term vision, saying: “Teva knows that without
competitors, it has no right to exist. I can already predict Teva’s results for
the year 2050. For us 2050 is our tomorrow and we are already preparing for that
time. Those who don’t know how to prepare for the year 2050 don’t know how to
manage a company and will not achieve results.”
Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai
said Hurvitz has improved the lives of people worldwide.
“Today, we mourn
the loss of a true pioneer, whose vision of providing access to affordable
medicine has helped improve the lives of people around the world,” he
President Shimon Peres learned of his friend’s death while en route
to Vietnam. Upon landing, the president described Hurvitz as an extraordinary
Israeli, speaking of how he had risen from the life of a simple kibbutznik to
the pinnacle of Israeli enterprise.
“He was a unique human being,” said
Peres, who noted that although Hurvitz was brilliant, he was an unpretentious
and even modest individual, who through Teva had contributed to the saving of
millions of lives. “His passing is a personal loss to me and an even greater
loss to the State of Israel.
Manufacturers Association President Shraga
Brosh, who is with Peres in Vietnam, said in a press statement, “Israeli
industry has lost a leader, a groundbreaker, a visionary and a strategist of the
highest degree. We all are shocked and saddened by the passing of Eli Hurvitz,
of blessed memory. This is an unimaginable loss.
“Eli Hurvitz did not
just turn Teva into Israel’s largest manufacturer and one of the leading
manufacturers in the world, but he also educated all of us on having a broad
strategic vision while protecting our values.”
The Export Institute said
that Hurvitz “was one of the cornerstones of the Israeli economy. A visionary
who left his mark on Teva and turned it from a local company into a global one.
On top of his business activities, Hurvitz left his mark on the Israeli
Hurvitz is survived by his wife Dalia and their three children.
His funeral will be held at Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha on Thursday
afternoon.Bloomberg contributed to this report.