Old Mutual Chairman Trevor Manuel wants an end to the fight against the South African insurer’s fired Chief Executive Officer Peter Moyo. But the ex-finance minister is not about to pay a settlement to get it.
“We don’t want to continue in the courts forever and a day,” Manuel told reporters in Johannesburg on Friday. “We need the share price to pick up. There is no glory in a street fight.”
The 174-year-old company’s dispute with Moyo spilled into the open in May when the firm suspended him for an alleged conflict of interest. Moyo was dismissed three weeks later, a decision the 56-year-old successfully challenged as unlawful in the Johannesburg High Court. Old Mutual last month issued Moyo with a second notice terminating his employment as it prepares an appeal to overturn the July 31 ruling.
The judgment in favour of Moyo “creates a massive headache for corporate governance,” Manuel said. “It’s our responsibility as a board to appoint a chief executive and the judge took that away from us.”
Moyo was given R4 million ($276 000) in pay for his six-month notice period following his second dismissal, the chairman said, adding that the notice remains valid so Moyo doesn’t need to be at work. The fired CEO has twice been blocked from gaining access to his office at Old Mutual’s headquarters in the upmarket suburb of Sandton.
“No purpose, no entry,” Manuel said. “Our shareholders have put letters on our tables that said ‘you cannot put money on the table to solve this thing.”’
Moyo, who has denied any conflicts of interest, said his second dismissal forms part of a contempt of court application he brought against Old Mutual for not letting him report for duty.
“I don’t know where they get the idea that it’s separate,” he said by phone after Manuel’s press conference.
Old Mutual’s shares have declined 7.4% since the company said in May it is suspending Moyo, the worst-performer in the five-member FTSE/JSE Africa Life Assurance Index.
© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.