MMI Holdings has changed its name to Momentum Metropolian Holdings. Picture: SUPPLIED/MMH
MMI Holdings has changed its name to Momentum Metropolian Holdings. Picture: SUPPLIED/MMH

SA's fourth-largest insurer, Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH) has appointed new executives for its health administration and employee benefits businesses as it ramps up its efforts to regain market share. 

MMH, which changed its name from MMI Group in July, decided to appoint internal candidates Dumo Mbethe and Hannes Viljoen to fill the vacancy left by Thinus Alsworth-Elvey, who was poached by Sanlam in April. Alsworth-Elvey was the CEO of the Momentum Health and Momentum Corporate business units. MMH has decided to split the management of the two businesses. 

Dumo Mbethe will become the CEO of Momentum Corporate on September 16 and Hannes Viljoen will take over as CEO of Momentum Metropolitan Health on September, 1.

The appointment of internal candidates is in keeping with most of MMH's key appointments since the departure of group CEO Nicolaas Kruger in February 2018. Kruger stepped down following a challenging period for the group characterised by the constant decline of its financial performance and the departures of a number of executives.

To “reset” its business, MMH brought back former Momentum executives Hillie Meyer and Jeanette Marais as CEO and deputy CEO of the group. MMI also promoted its then chief financial officer Risto Ketola to become the group’s financial director.

But despite its attempt to turn the business around, which saw MMH exiting several other African countries and subsequently reporting a net profit in the first half of its 2019 financial year, the insurer's share price continued to lose 13% of value in the past year.

On Wednesday, Meyer said the appointment of Mbethe and Viljoen would help MMH strengthen its operations so that it can deliver on its strategic goal of growing in SA earnings and market share in SA.

The corporate space, which includes employee benefits and employer-sponsored medical aid, is one area where MMH remains competitive despite losing market share over the years. Momentum Corporate had over 2.1-million clients at the end of the company’s 2018 financial year, the second biggest in terms of client numbers after Metropolitan Retail, which mostly serves the low-income market. It was also the second-biggest contributor to the group’s earnings. Mbethe said although the task ahead of him was big, he was prepared for it. 

“Momentum Corporate is a business that has an important role to play in SA through the delivery of employee benefit solutions that enable people to achieve their financial goals and lifetime aspirations. I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges this role will bring and to building deep connections with our team and our clients, who are the catalysts for achieving our goals,” he said. 

Viljoen who has been with MMH since 2003, pioneered various health initiatives including the first independent hospital network in SA. He said he will be building on the opportunities made possible by this repositioning of health in the group to make Momentum Metropolitan Health a more competitive business unit.

buthelezil@businesslive.co.za