Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo is ready to report for duty immediately after his court victory on Tuesday and does not foresee any problems having a working relationship with the board and chairperson Trevor Manuel.
“I’m back in the office tomorrow morning at 08:00…the most important thing is that we have got to go back and rebuild Old Mutual,” Moyo told reporters immediately after the court judgment, which saw him reinstated as CEO.
The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found that Moyo’s suspension in May and dismissal in June were unlawful and he should return to his position with immediate effect. Moyo's permanent reinstatement is pending Part B of his application which will be heard at a later stage.
In the ruling, read out on behalf of Judge Brian Mashile, Old Mutual was interdicted from appointing another CEO until the next part of the application is dealt with. The JSE listed insurer will also have to pay Moyo’s legal costs, including the fees of two counsel.
David and Goliath...and Manuel
“This case was all about accountability, transparency and the protection of corporate governance. It’s a typical story of Goliath and David and in the end, justice has prevailed," Moyo’s lawyer Eric Mabuza said. Moyo celebrated his reinstatement with his wife and daughter who were in court to support him.
When asked how he would be able to work with the board and Manuel, given the tense relationship that has developed, he said the entire company works “for one purpose”.
“I always respected him as the chairman and…work will continue,” Moyo said of Manuel.
Moyo will now pursue Part B of his application which is to be set in motion 60 days from Tuesday’s ruling. He will ask the court to grant him damages against Old Mutual, citing reputational harm he suffered.
He also wants all members of the board to be declared delinquent directors which will prevent them from holding non-executive director positions for several years.
A representative from Old Mutual in court said they would study the judgment in full and comment at a later stage. The company in court documents said Moyo was suspended and fired due to a conflict of interest related to NMT Capital, a boutique investment firm he co-founded.
Old Mutual maintained he allowed dividends owed to the company as a preferential shareholder and institutional investor to slide into arrears while he received a R30m payout.
Moyo’s lawyers however argued that he was axed for raising concerns that Manuel was conflicted. Manuel also chaired Rothschild & Co which oversaw Old Mutual plc delist from the London Stock Exchange and list as Old Mutual Limited on the JSE in June 2018 in a “Managed Separation”.