Moyo vs. Old Mutual: Court dismisses bid to block hiring of new CEO | Fin24

Moyo vs. Old Mutual: Court dismisses bid to block hiring of new CEO

Mar 17 2020 17:11
Sibongile Khumalo

The Johannesburg High Court has dismissed an urgent application by former Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo to stop the company from hiring a new chief executive on a permanent basis pending the appeal of a January ruling that found his dismissal was lawful.

The ruling is a setback for the embattled former head of the financial services group, who has faced his former employer in a drawn-out legal battle since his axing in June 2019.

Moyo had previously argued that Peter Moyo has said he would suffer further reputational harm if the financial services company appointed a new CEO while there is an ongoing court battle.

On Tuesday, Old Mutual welcomed the ruling by Judge Colin Lamont, saying the company "looks forward to continuing with our intensive process to recruit a permanent CEO".

"This will give us and the market much-needed certainty," the company said. 

Iain Williamson has been serving as interim CEO, and will continue to do so for the time being, Old Mutual added. 

Moyo's lawyer Eric Mabuza said he was unfazed by the ruling, referring to it as a "side issue".

"The biggest issue for us now is the pending ruling by the appeals court," he said. 

In June 2019, Old Mutual dismissed Moyo, citing a breakdown in trust and a conflict of interest related to payment of dividends by NMT Capital, a boutique investment firm Moyo co-founded.

On January 14, Old Mutual won its appeal against a July 2019 ruling by Judge Brian Mashile to have Moyo reinstated. But Moyo's legal team had since provided Old Mutual notice of their intention to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. The application for leave to appeal was filed at the SCA on January 29, 2020.

According to Moyo's attorney, Eric Mabuza, the application for leave to appeal suspends the January 14 ruling.

Old Mutual disagrees, saying the ruling indicates that, contrary to what Moyo's legal team has argued, the court found this was not the case. According to the judgment, "the fact that there are appeal proceedings pending does not revive the interim order [originally granted to Moyo]".

That order had been set aside and, according to the judgment, the submission that the status quo had been restored because appeal proceedings were in progress was "accordingly fallacious". 

* This article has been updated to include extracts directly from the judgment in the last two paragraphs.  

old mutual  |  peter moyo.


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