Mpofu — Old Mutual should reinstate Moyo



Financial services giant Old Mutual remains firm in its stance that it does not want Peter Moyo back as its chief executive.

In round two of its fight to have Moyo dismissed, Old Mutual argues that the breakdown in the relationship between Moyo and the company’s board of directors is enough reason for the interim court ruling to have him reinstated, be suspended.

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.

Moyo emerged victorious on July 30 when Judge Brian Mashile granted an interim order for Old Mutual to reinstate him as the company’s chief executive. The interim order was granted pending Part B of Moyo’s application which seeks to have the company’s directors declared delinquent in terms of the Companies Act.

Moyo’s victory was interrupted however, when he was prevented from going back to his desk by Old Mutual on July 31. The company then filed an urgent leave to appeal the court ruling. According to the JSE-listed company their application for leave to appeal suspends the Mashile’s interim order.

The 174-year-old company argues that Mashile failed to consider that the “relationship of confidence, trust and mutual respect [between the board and Moyo] has been completely lost”.

Arguing for Moyo in the Johannesburg high court on Friday, advocate Dali Mpofu questioned the timing of the company’s application for leave to appeal saying that the board decided to appeal the ruling within five to six hours of the order granted.

“The real intention was to keep Mr Moyo out of the gate by hook or by crook,” he said.

Advocate Vincent Maleka, representing Old Mutual said that the company has suffered greater harm than Moyo as a result of the dispute to the detriment of the company’s shareholders. Maleka says that the company estimates that it has lost R5-billion or 5% of its share price since the dispute started.

“That’s a shameful position to take,” said Mpofu. “Can anyone say that Moyo won’t suffer any harm while he sits at home when he has a court order in his favour?”

Old Mutual is seeking a declaratory order to either find Judge Mashile ruling as final or suspend the implementation of the interim order citing “exceptional circumstances.”

The company adds that the breakdown of the relationship between themselves and Moyo makes any working relationship untenable. Mpofu poured cold water on this saying that there does not need to be a cosy relationship between Moyo and the board of directors for the company to work.

“They must grow up,” he said.

The case continues.

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Thando Maeko
Thando Maeko is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the Mail & Guardian

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