Court rules Old Mutual does not have to reinstate ex-CEO Peter Moyo

Axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo.
Axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times

The high court ruled on Tuesday that Old Mutual does not have to reinstate its sacked chief executive Peter Moyo, upholding the insurance and banking group's appeal against him with costs.

Old Mutual has been locked in a dispute with Moyo since it suspended him in May 2019 in relation to an alleged conflict of interest.

He was fired in June then temporarily reinstated by the courts in July in a ruling that also blocked the insurer from seeking a replacement. However, he was unable to return to work while Old Mutual appealed the decision.

The decision was a much-needed victory for Old Mutual, whose shares have fallen more than 10% since his initial suspension in May. A spokeswoman for Old Mutual said it was vindicated, and was free to now seek a new CEO.

Moyo in a statement said: "We are still studying the judgement... There is a very, very good chance that we are actually going to appeal," while his lawyer added he would proceed with a longer case against his dismissal, in which Moyo is seeking permanent reinstatement or damages.

The battle with Moyo has shaken some shareholders' confidence in one of South Africa's oldest companies just as it tries to return to its roots as an African financial services group after breaking up an international conglomerate.

Repeated losses in the courts, concerns that Moyo's departure was sloppily handled and the drawn-out public fight have weighed on Old Mutual's share price. 

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