Old Mutual named acting chief executive officer Iain Williamson as the African insurer’s permanent head after winning a legal battle against Peter Moyo, who tried to get the CEO job back following his dismissal.
The High Court in Johannesburg in January upheld an appeal by the 175-year-old insurer against a judgment delivered in July last year to temporarily reinstate Moyo, who was first suspended two months earlier before being fired. Old Mutual’s board cited a “material breakdown in trust and confidence” over an alleged conflict of interest, which Moyo denies.
Old Mutual said on May 28 that first-half profit probably fell at least 20% after lockdowns to curb the coronavirus hindered the insurer’s ability to distribute its products. Many of Old Mutual’s advisers and branch consultants weren’t able to see customers during April and May, when most of South Africa’s economy was shuttered by restrictions on the movement of people and goods.
The appointment provides much needed certainty for investors, said Warwick Bam, head of research at Avior Capital Markets. “Iain provides Old Mutual with stability and continuity of knowledge, which are invaluable in times of extreme change,” he said.
Old Mutual’s shares pared an earlier decline of as much as 2.8%, to trade 1.3% down as of 2:48 p.m. in Johannesburg. The stock has dropped 36% this year, the worst performer in the five-member South African life insurer’s index after Liberty Holdings.
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