Alexander Forbes head offices in Sandton North of Johannesburg. Photo :Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Alexander Forbes rose 12.53 percent to R5.57 on the JSE yesterday after the group moved swiftly to replace former chief executive Andrew Darfoor with Dawie de Villiers.

The group said De Villiers would take the reins from Marilyn Ramplin, who stood in the gap following Darfoor's dismissal two weeks ago.

De Villiers holds a BSc Actuarial Science degree and has completed the Advanced Management Programme at the European Institute of Business Administration. He is also a Fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

De Villiers joined Sanlam in 1993 and rapidly progressed into senior leadership and executive positions in various divisions, broadening his business acumen, while gaining an in-depth knowledge of each unit.

Alexander Forbes terminated Darfoor’s employment with immediate effect last month, saying the board had lost “confidence and trust” in him. 

But it would not be drawn into revealing more details about the breakdown in the relationship with Darfoor. 

Lynn Stevens, group chief marketing officer, declined to comment on the separation. 

“At this stage the company does not have anything further to add to what has been communicated,” she said.

Surprise move

Darfoor was axed by the board in a surprise move after investors questioned his strategy to drive growth through small acquisition and his decision to push to get more business from retail investors rather than core institutional clients. 

The Nonkululeko Nyembezi-led board was unimpressed by Darfoor’s strategy including targets such as growing shareholders’ return on equity 12 to 14 percent annually and maintaining the ratio at which the company's net income can cover dividends paid to shareholders.

Darfoor has vigorously defended his strategy, saying he would in due course deal with the manner of his dismissal as he had achieved the set targets for expense efficiency two years ahead of schedule.

He also said the direction in which he was taking Alexander Forbes had been approved by the board before he was mandated to implement it, and was again endorsed by the company in March 2018.

The firm earlier stated that it had parted ways with Darfoor, after only two years in his position as group chief executive.

Alexander Forbes is in the midst of its Ambition 2022 strategic plan designed to transform its business by unlocking potential.

The group has seen several top management changes in just two years.

Darfoor’s predecessor was Edward Kieswetter, who took early retirement in February 2016.

BUSINESS REPORT