(Recasts with Teva statement)
JERUSALEM, March 23 (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ plans to end unprofitable activities and freeze recruitment, but said Israeli media reports of up to 6,000 layoffs were incorrect.
Earlier on Thursday, two of Israel’s leading financial news websites carried separate reports that Teva, the world’s biggest generic drug maker and Israel’s largest company, planned to fire between 2,000 and 6,000 workers - or as much as 11 percent of the workforce.
A Teva spokesperson had initially declined to comment on the report, but the company later put out a statement saying the figures the media gave were inaccurate.
“The efficiency program is an integral part of Teva’s business reality. The program includes, among other things, ending unprofitable activities and consolidating functions, in addition to freezing recruitment and natural employee turnover,” the company said.
“These processes are conducted through a continuous open dialogue with the employees. This will be the practice, including in Israel, as necessary. We would like to stress that the numbers which were published in the media are incorrect,” it said.
Teva employs around 57,000 people globally.
It has had a rough year, though, with a series of costly acquisitions, along with delayed drug launches, sending its stock plummeting 72 percent to $32.61 the past 12 months.
That forced former chief executive Erez Vigodman to step down in February, with Chairman Yitzhak Peterburg replacing him on a temporary basis.
One of the websites, Calcalist, said Teva has already reduced its workforce in Israel by around 100 people as part of the efficiency plan. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Steven Scheer; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)