South Africa: Old Mutual's Unholy Mess

(file photo)

The Old Mutual board ignored a red flag when it appointed Peter Moyo in 2017, insisting that conflict of interest challenges could be managed. They couldn't. Now the board must find a new CEO when the company is desperate for strong, strategic leadership.

It was January 2017 and Old Mutual was halfway through its three-year managed separation process that would ultimately see the remains of the non-core assets sold off, the UK wealth management business unbundled and listed separately and Old Mutual Ltd listed on the JSE.

The exercise, dubbed as a grand homecoming, would also see the executive team of Bruce Hemphill and Ingrid Johnson, CEO and CFO respectively, step down.

Things were going well, helped by the fact that the executive team was richly incentivised to ensure that the separation process went smoothly.

Then the CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets, Ralph Mupita, upped stakes to move to MTN. This was a problem as he was a shoo-in for CEO of the listed entity, Old Mutual Ltd.

This left the board with a problem. It was deep into the unbundling process, it had a listing coming up in 18 months and no obvious replacement.

Peter Moyo was put...

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