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Sygnia co-founder Magda Wierzycka is set to return as its CEO in May, with the index-tracking asset manager announcing on Friday that David Hufton will resign in pursuit of a career break after three decades in the industry.
Wierzycka, who helped found the Sygnia in 2006, stepped down as co-CEO in May 2021, and as a proponent of passive investing, helped build a financial service firm that now oversees assets of more than R285 billion.
Wierzycka had stepped down in part to focus on her investment vehicles overseas, telling Business Insider at the time that stepping down as CEO freed her from day-to-day operations and gave her the flexibility to look for opportunities for the company. Just a week after Hufton took over as sole CEO in June 2021, Wierzycka had taken a position as executive chair.
Wierzycka told News24 on Friday that Hufton, with whom she'd worked for seven years, needed time off.
"He has lived through a pandemic, load shedding, bad economy," she said. "He really needs a break." Wiercyzkya added that Hufton was still with the firm as CEO for three months, and fully available thereafter.
"Sygnia is my baby. And I love SA and I want to contribute. So, I felt it is the right decision at this time."
UCT professor and economist Haroon Bhorat will now resume his position in an independent non-executive capacity. Bhorat, currently a non-executive director, previously held the position of chair from June 2015 to June 2021. Wierzycka remains Sygnia's biggest shareholder, with 60% of the group at the end of September 2022.
Hufton, a former executive at Alexforbes, will continue to serve in his current role until the end of April in order to facilitate a smooth transition in leadership, Sygnia said on Friday, adding its acceptance of his resignation was reluctant.
Shares of Sygnia, which is valued at R2.68 billion on the JSE, were unchanged at R17.80 on Friday afternoon, having fallen about 4% since early June 2021.
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Note: This article has been updated with comment from Wierzycka.