UPDATE: 'Any future working relationship with Mr Moyo will be untenable' - Old Mutual | Fin24
 
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UPDATE: 'Any future working relationship with Mr Moyo will be untenable' - Old Mutual

Jul 31 2019 09:48
Tehillah Niselow

UPDATE: 

Old Mutual has since issued a statement confirming that it filed its leave to appeal this morning at the High Court in Johannesburg.

"Mr Moyo will not be returning to office until the appeal process has been completed. It is very clear that there has been an irreparable breakdown in trust and confidence, and that any future working relationship is untenable," it said. 

"Old Mutual points out that Mr Moyo and the media were indeed allowed access to the building after it opened to the public at 08:30, following which Old Mutual’s legal team met with Mr Moyo and his legal team to explain Old Mutual’s approach.

"Following these discussions and on the advice of two Senior Counsel, Old Mutual is comfortable with the position it has adopted on the impact of the application for leave to appeal. It is clear either party can approach the court for appropriate relief. There will be no further meeting between the legal teams today."

It also appealed to stakeholders to not be "distracted" by the ongoing saga.

"Old Mutual appeals to all its stakeholders not to be distracted by the ongoing court proceedings as they are not affecting the business from an operational perspective and the matter will be finally determined by an appeals process. 

"Old Mutual continues to execute its strategy, underpinned by strong corporate governance."  

Moyo's legal representative Eric Mabuza said earlier that they were still hoping for a meeting later tonight.

---

Old Mutual says the meeting with senior counsel which was planned for Wednesday afternoon to discuss axed CEO Peter Moyo's reinstatement will no longer go ahead. The insurer called off the meeting shortly before it was due to start.

“Our legal counsel have been in discussions upstairs and … the issue here is the difference in the interpretation of the impact of the leave to appeal application,” company spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe said.  

Earlier, Moyo’s lawyer Eric Mabuza told journalists that senior counsel will meet at 14:30 on Wednesday at the insurer’s offices in Sandton to try to resolve the impasse. She added it was not "necessary" for the meeting to take place as the company had taken “independent counsel on this matter and we have been advised that we are acting within the confines of the law". 

Moyo maintains he should take up the reigns at the insurer with immediate effect following his victory in court on Tuesday which ordered him to be reinstated temporarily. Old Mutual, however, has filed a notice to appeal and believes this suspends the implementation of the order.  

Mabuza said at the heart of the issue was Old Mutual’s assertion that Tuesday's High Court order is final. A final ruling can be suspended with a notice to appeal while an interim judgment requires another court order to this effect, he said.

Tsengiwe, however, said Old Mutual’s legal team had advised them Moyo is not permitted to resume his duties as CEO. 

“Due to the difference in interpretation, either party is at liberty to approach the court,” Tsengiwe said. 

Moyo said he was disappointed that the meeting did not go ahead.

Mabuza said Advocate Dali Mpofu was on the way to the insurer’s offices in Sandton when Old Mutual called off the discussions. He was however hopeful the meeting could go ahead on Wednesday evening either face-to-face or over the phone.

---

After a morning of meetings between lawyers for Old Mutual and its axed CEO Peter Moyo, the parties have proposed to hold a meeting with senior counsel on Wednesday afternoon to find a  way forward to the impasse, according to Moyo's lawyer, Eric Mabuza.

"Our senior counsel is coming here at 14:30 to take the discussion further," Mabuza told journalists at the entrance to Old Mutual's offices in Sandton.

Moyo maintains he should take up the reigns at the insurer with immediate effect following his victory in court on Tuesday which ordered him to be reinstated temporarily. Old Mutual, however, has filed a notice to appeal and believes this suspends the implementation of the order.

The company's spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe said they could not comment until the confidential legal discussions had concluded.

Mabuza said at the heart of the issue over Moyo's reinstatement is Old Mutual's assertion that Tuesday's High Court order is final. A final ruling can be suspended with a notice to appeal while an interim judgment requires another court order to this effect.

"We completely disagree [that it was a final order]... he was reinstated temporarily," Mabuza said, referring to the court ruling that Moyo would only be permanently reinstated following Part B of his application.

Moyo confirmed Advocate Dali Mpofu will be attending the meeting for Moyo.

Meanwhile Moyo was in good spirits when he came downstairs briefly and spoke to journalists. He would not be drawn into commenting but said South Africa has laws and these must be followed. 

--- 

Axed CEO Peter Moyo reported for duty on Wednesday morning despite a statement by Old Mutual late on Tuesday night that it would immediately appeal the court order reinstating him.

In its statement, Old Mutual said that in light of its appeal, the court order would therefore be suspended and its interim CEO Ian Williamson would remain in place. Moyo's legal representative, Eric Mabuza, however, disputed this, saying Moyo had every right to return to work as instructed by the court. 

Moyo apparently entered the Sandton office via the back entrance at 08:00 on Wednesday morning but later came to the reception area to instruct security guards at the front entrance of the building to allow journalists inside. They had previously been barred from entering.

Dressed in a dark blue suit and carrying a cup of coffee, he told security, "This is a public space...you know that." The security guards then acceded to his request and let the journalists inside.

Peter Moyo at Old Mutual's head offices in Sandton

Moyo then ascended the escalator and told journalists, "I'll see you guys."

Curious Old Mutual employees took pictures and filmed the events downstairs.

Mabuza later briefed journalists that they had met with Old Mutual's legal team and informed them that a notice to appeal does not suspend an interim order.

"If they want to suspend an interim order, they must go to court to get a court order...so it's quite incorrect," Mabuza said.

Mabuza added that Old Mutual's legal team was presently "caucusing about it".

Contempt of Court

In a letter to Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys, who are acting on behalf of Old Mutual, Mabuza states that if the company takes any steps to prevent Moyo from returning to his office, they will be in "willful contempt of court".

"We trust that your client's board, for once, will act in a measured and lawful manner in the interest of Old Mutual shareholders," the letter concludes.

Old Mutual's spokesperson has meanwhile maintained that its statement still stands.

On Tuesday, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled that Moyo should be reinstated and his suspension and subsequent dismissal were unlawful.

The ruling also barred the JSE listed insurer from filling his post pending Part B of Moyo's application which will be dealt with in approximately two months.

In this, he will ask the courts to grant him damages as a result of reputational harm from being fired and declare the entire board delinquent directors under the Companies Act.

Moyo said after the ruling that he would report for duty on Wednesday morning.

Moyo was suspended in May and axed in June, with Old Mutual citing a conflict of interest and a breakdown in trust. Moyo has in turn argued that these claims were "artificially manufactured" and that his "deteriorating" relationship with Old Mutual chairman Trevor Manuel was central to his dismissal.

* This is a developing story


old mutual  |  peter moyo
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