Old Mutual appoints new CEO from within: Iain Williamson

Old Mutual has appointed a replacement for controversial former CEO Peter Moyo from within its ranks, ending months of uncertainty for shareholders. Moyo was suspended last year and eventually sacked following a lengthy legal battle in connection with his alleged business conflicts of interest. Williamson has served as the Interim Chief Executive Officer since May 2019. He has been with the Old Mutual group since 1993 in various roles, including employee benefits and personal finance and in corporate development in London at Old Mutual plc. Williamson has worked his way up the Old Mutual ladder, spending time as Old Mutual Emerging Markets’ Finance Director in 2015 and Chief Operating Officer in 2017.  Williamson’s qualifications include a degree in actuarial science and he has also completed a General Management Programme at Harvard. – Editor

Old Mutual confirms new CEO after protracted legal battle

By Roxanne Henderson

(Bloomberg) — Old Mutual Ltd. named acting Chief Executive Officer Iain Williamson as the African insurer’s permanent head after winning a legal battle against Peter Moyo, who tried to get the CEO job back following his dismissal.

Old Mutual
Iain Williamson

Williamson’s appointment follows a “comprehensive global search,” the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on Friday. The actuary has spent almost three decades at Old Mutual, including managing director of its retail-affluent division, finance director of its emerging-markets business and chief operating officer of the group, it said.

The High Court in Johannesburg in January upheld an appeal by the 175-year-old insurer against a judgment delivered in July last year to temporarily reinstate Moyo, who was first suspended two months earlier before being fired. Old Mutual’s board cited a “material breakdown in trust and confidence” over an alleged conflict of interest, which Moyo denies.

Old Mutual said on May 28 that first-half profit probably fell at least 20% after lockdowns to curb the coronavirus hindered the insurer’s ability to distribute its products. Many of Old Mutual’s advisers and branch consultants weren’t able to see customers during April and May, when most of South Africa’s economy was shuttered by restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

The appointment provides much needed certainty for investors, said Warwick Bam, head of research at Avior Capital Markets. “Iain provides Old Mutual with stability and continuity of knowledge, which are invaluable in times of extreme change,” he said.

Old Mutual’s shares pared an earlier decline of as much as 2.8%, to trade 1.3% down as of 2:48 p.m. in Johannesburg. The stock has dropped 36% this year, the worst performer in the five-member South African life insurer’s index after Liberty Holdings Ltd.

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