The waiting game for newly reinstated Old Mutual chief executive, Peter Moyo continues after nearly seven hours of talks between his legal representatives and that of the financial services giant came to nought.
Moyo entered the Old Mutual headquarters in Sandton on Wednesday morning ready to begin work accompanied by his lawyer Eric Mabuza, but Mabuza quickly led him away to a closed door meeting with his employer.
Old Mutual had meanwhile, first thing on Wednesday morning, filed an urgent application to appeal the Johannesburg high court’s decision on Tuesday that Moyo should be reinstated. Old Mutual, in its appeal, argues that Moyo’s application was “ill-conceived, contained a number of false allegations, and should have been dismissed.”
Moyo and Mabuza went into a discussion with Old Mutual’s lawyers, Moyo maintaining that Old Mutual should abide by the court order despite it having instituted an appeal. But the parties failed to agree on the interpretation of the court order.
“I was back [at work] as directed by the court. Old Mutual doesn’t believe I should and I actually think that is in direct contempt of court. The board is clearly in contempt,” Moyo told journalists as he left the building later in the day.
Following the breakdown of talks, Mabuza said that Old Mutual requested both parties bring in their senior counsel in order to break the impasse.
“Our senior counsel was ready to come here and they [Old Mutual] later told us that their senior counsel is not available. Hopefully the discussions between the counsel will continue,” he said.
Moyo was fired in June following a public spat between himself and the board led by chair Trevor Manuel over a conflict of interest regarding the declaration of dividends Moyo received from investment holding company, NMT Capital. Moyo received a R30,6-million share of the dividends paid. Old Mutual has a 20% stake NMT, which is also co-founded by Moyo.
Asked why the Old Mutual board insists he should not resume his duties, Moyo said that he does not know. “Ask them,” he said. “By the board’s own admission I was a very good performing chief executive.”
“Mr Moyo is not permitted nor allowed to resume duty because our leave to appeal actually means that the order to have him reinstated is suspended,” said Old Mutual spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe.
“It is very clear that there has been an irreparable breakdown in trust and confidence, and that any future working relationship is untenable, Old Mutual said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shares in the insurer tumbled by more than 5% on Tuesday after the court ruling. Old Mutual says that its appeal is in the best interests of its shareholders.
“We’re acting within the confines of the law and that everything that has happened is actually primarily in the interests of all our stakeholders,” Tsengiwe said.
While Old Mutual says talks will not continue on Wednesday, it is unclear whether or not Moyo will return to the company’s offices on Thursday to resume work.