Long road for Old Mutual

Jim Jones

Jim Jones

The mess into which management led Old Mutual last year is unlikely to be quickly or easily resolved despite what some analysts have described as the "desperation measures" being taken.

As Julian Roberts, the recently-appointed group chief executive, put it: "Frankly, poor decisions, insufficient oversight and poor governance have been to blame and are being addressed."

Roberts was group finance director when many of those poor decisions were made.

Helped to some extent by the world's financial crisis Old Mutual's sterling-denominated operating profit crashed to £999million (R14.7billion) last year from 2007's £1 624million.

As Roberts told analysts at the presentation of Old Mutual's results yesterday, responsible capital management must be the priority, which means no dividends will be paid this year and, perhaps, next.

Old Mutual's distress arose principally from its US Life operations.