Alexander Forbes CEO Dawie de Villiers . File photo: FINANCIAL MAIL/ROBERT TSHABALALA
Alexander Forbes CEO Dawie de Villiers . File photo: FINANCIAL MAIL/ROBERT TSHABALALA

Two more executives have resigned at Alexander Forbes, bringing the number of those who have left since the unceremonious axing of Andrew Darfoor in September to seven, including the former CEO.

With more than half of the executive team displaced, the country’s largest pension funds administrator said it was working on restoring confidence in the company.

CEO Dawie de Villiers, a former Sanlam executive who was swiftly appointed to replace Darfoor, said he hoped that the reviewed strategy the group would present in March would arrest share price declines that the company had experienced in the past four years. The share price is trading at R4.71, less than half its 2015 peak.

The firm was halfway through the implementation of a turnaround programme, known as Ambition 2022, which included plans to expand on the continent and build its offering for retail clients, when Darfoor was axed.

His strategy was questioned by the firm’s second-largest shareholder, Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital Investments (ARC).

"Seven executives is indeed a large number, but we’ve put in place an executive committee and the strategy that we’ll present in March will restore confidence in Alexander Forbes," said De Villiers.

ARC’s joint CEOs, Johan van Zyl and Johan van der Merwe, like De Villiers, are former Sanlam executives.

Alexander Forbes on Wednesday confirmed the resignations of the head of the corporate and employee benefits division, Tony Powis, as well as the head of the retail business, Sugendhree Reddy.

Last week Leon Greyling, the CEO of its investments unit, chief risk officer Vishnu Naicker, and chief human resources officer Christian Schaub resigned.

CFO Naidene Ford-Hoon resigned after Darfoor’s axing. While Alexander Forbes swiftly appointed a permanent CEO, three months after her departure the position is unfilled.

De Villiers said the executives had left for personal reasons rather than being purged by the new leadership.

"All the executives that left had worked very hard in the past three years to turn around the company and to try and restore confidence in the market. So when that did not work out as anticipated, one can understand why some may want a career change," De Villiers said.

He said the concerns that drove the share price movements were around the company culture, and the reviewed strategy that would be presented in March should help arrest the share price decline.

One of the steps taken by De Villiers was to cancel a R1bn information technology contract Alexander Forbes entered into two years earlier under Darfoor’s watch. The move plunged the administrator into a R45m after-tax loss for the six months to end September.

buthelezil@businesslive.co.za

Image: Iress