Former Momentum MD Hillie Meyer to replace MMI CEO Nicolaas Kruger
Hillie Meyer will be joining MMI on a three-year contract, his return to the company after more than a decade is likely to surprise the market
Former Momentum MD Hillie Meyer will replace MMI CEO Nicolaas Kruger, the insurance group created by the merger of Momentum and Metropolitan said on Tuesday.
Meyer, who was MD of Momentum between 1996 and 2005, will join MMI on a three-year contract, effective February 15.
"This decision comes after a few months of discussions between Nicolaas and the MMI Holdings board that enabled the board to consider the appointment of his successor with due care," MMI said.
Jeanette Marais, previously an executive director at Allan Gray, would join Mary Vilakazi as a second deputy CEO on March 1, MMI said.
Kruger has been with the group for 26 years — nine of those as CEO, including two years as CEO of Momentum.
He oversaw the merger between Momentum and Metropolitan, which led to the creation of MMI in 2010 — now the third-largest insurance company by market value on the JSE.
Also under Kruger, the group has broken into India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, through a health joint venture with multinational, Aditya Birla. It has also partnered African Bank to offer unsecured loans to its policy holders, while selling its insurance products to African Bank’s clients.
Kruger’s resignation comes following a challenging period for the group, which has included a number of high-profile departures and leadership changes. MMI announced last year that it would sell some of its businesses in the rest of Africa in order to focus on its underperforming South African unit and a joint venture in India.
MMI posted no growth in earnings for the year to June 2017, as earnings in its largest unit, Momentum Retail, fell 15%.
Vilakazi would focus on "operationally integrating" the group’s two retail operations, Momentum and Metropolitan, which account for more than 60% of the group’s profits.
Marais, who started her career at Momentum in the early 1990s, would be responsible for Momentum Investments.
Risto Ketola, currently chief financial officer of MMI, was appointed the group’s financial director.
Meyer’s return to MMI more than a decade later is likely to surprise the market. He has served on the boards of various listed and unlisted companies over the past 10 years, including Alexander Forbes and General Reinsurance Africa. In 2010, he joined private equity firm Nodus Equity as managing partner of Nodus Investment Managers.
In a note to staff, Kruger, who turned 50 in December, said he planned to spend more time with his family and focus on personal interests before making any firm decisions on the next chapter. "It has been an exciting journey and a privilege to be part of this group for so many years. I have watched the growth from when I started working at Momentum in 1991 at the age of 24 when there were about 200 employees, to today when MMI Holdings boasts a workforce of 17,000 employees," Kruger said.