Peter Moyo, Old Mutual CEO. Picture: SUPPLIED
Peter Moyo, Old Mutual CEO. Picture: SUPPLIED

Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo said on Friday his suspension from the company related to a disagreement over how the company should engage with investment firm NMT Capital, which he founded.

Old Mutual Life Assurance Company, a subsidiary of Old Mutual, is an investor in NMT Capital.

Moyo, who previously served as CEO of NMT Capital and remains a nonexecutive director, said the relationship between the companies had always existed and been properly disclosed.

“There is actually absolutely no wrongdoing on my part,” he said.

Old Mutual said earlier it had suspended Moyo over a “breakdown in trust”, following a series of talks. The Old Mutual board, chaired by former finance minister Trevor Manuel, had suspended Moyo with immediate effect, it said.

Manuel will provide more information at the Old Mutual’s AGM on Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman said.

The group’s COO, Iain Williamson, has taken over as acting CEO.

The announcement of Moyo’s suspension was “totally unexpected”, said Cratos Capital trader Greg Davies.

It added to the list of bad surprises local investors had had to contend with this week, Davies said, citing Sasol’s announcement of cost overruns in the US and Massmart’s warning of a sharp decline in earnings.

Old Mutual’s shares opened 6% down at R20.40 on Friday morning — the biggest decline since its listing in June 2018 — before recovering slightly to R21.19.

Davies said some investors may be using this as an opportunity to buy stock in the company.

Moyo rejoined Old Mutual in June 2017 as CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets, and later of Old Mutual, having left in 2005 to take over at Alexander Forbes. 

According to Old Mutual’s remuneration report for the year ended December 2018, Moyo’s total compensation increased by 32% to R50.5m. The biggest contributor to the increase was the managed separation incentive plan, for which he was awarded R15.4m. 

Old Mutual undertook a major restructuring during 2018 referred to as the “managed separation”. This resulted in the conglomerate reducing its stake in Nedbank, separately listing its UK Wealth division as Quilter on the London Stock Exchange, and relisting its emerging-markets business in Johannesburg under the Old Mutual brand. 

With Reuters

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za