Cape Town – South African mining magnate Patrice Motsepe turned down the role as Sanlam chairperson and asked former CEO Johan van Zyl to take on the role, the company said on Monday.
This comes as current chairperson Desmond Smith announced he would retire at the annual general meeting in June 2017, after serving in the position since 2010.
“The Sanlam Limited board of directors unanimously nominated Mr Patrice Motsepe to be the new chairman when Desmond Smith retires,” Sanlam said in a statement on Monday.
“However, Mr Patrice Motsepe proposed that the Sanlam board should consider appointing Dr Johan van Zyl as the new chairman.
“Dr Van Zyl was thereafter appointed chairman-elect and will take over from Mr Smith in June 2017 in the capacity of non-independent non-executive chairman.
“Mr Motsepe will retain his position as the deputy chairman.”
“Patrice was the board’s choice, but the board respects his decision and recommendation that Johan, a consummate leader, is well positioned to take over as chairman,” said Smith.
“His association with Sanlam and industry experience will add value to the future direction and growth of the company for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Smith was Sanlam’s managing director from 1993, having joined the company in 1968. He retired from his executive position at Sanlam at the end of 1997 and joined the board in 2009.
Van Zyl and Motsepe have a close working relationship.
Motsepe opting to give van Zyl the job of chairman at Sanlam? Manyi and others will shout WMC from the roof again,but will not confront him.
— JanArrie Korana (@Derrick_67) December 19, 2016
After retiring as Sanlam CEO in June 2015, Van Zyl became CEO of Ubuntu-Botho, which owns African Rainbow Capital (ARC) and has a 14.5% stake in Sanlam. Van Zyl also became co-CEO of ARC. Ubuntu-Botho is made up of the Motsepe Family Trust, the Sanlam Ubuntu-Botho Community Development Trust and broad based BEE groups. Motsepe is chairperson of ARC and Ubuntu-Botho.
“He is credited for transforming Sanlam from a primarily South African life insurer to a multinational diversified financial services group during his tenure as CEO,” Sanlam said.
Former Exxaro CEO Sipho Nkosi, who has served as an independent non-executive director on the board since 2006, was also appointed as a lead independent non-executive director.
Nkosi was one of the founders and former CEO of Eyesizwe Coal and is the second vice-president of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut and a past president of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa where he served on the executive council.
“The board has put in place well considered and adequate processes to uphold and safeguard adherence to good governance at all times,” he said. “These include, among others, the appointment of Sipho as the lead independent non-executive director.”
Smith anticipated a smooth handover from himself to the chairman-elect as well as a continued good working relationship between the chairman-elect, the board and the Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk.
“Johan and Ian have a well-established and positive working relationship, starting back in May 2006 when Ian joined Sanlam as an executive in Johan’s team. I am confident that this relationship will continue to serve the best interests of the Sanlam Group,” he said.