Fired Alexander Forbes boss vows to fight instant dismissal

By Kabelo Khumalo Time of article published Sep 26, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG – Sacked Alexander Forbes boss Andrew Darfoor has indicated that he will fight his instant dismissal.

Darfoor yesterday said that his sacking, which shook the financial services profession, was not harmonious.

“I can confirm that my relationship with Alexander Forbes has ended. I am not happy about the outcome and will deal with it in due course,” he said, without elaborating.

The firm yesterday said that it had parted ways with Darfoor only after two years in his position as group chief executive as the company had lost confidence and “trust” in him.

“Shareholders are advised that the board has, resulting from a loss of confidence and trust, terminated the services of Mr AA Darfoor as group chief executive and director with immediate effect,” it announced yesterday.

Darfoor allegedly fell off after investors questioned his strategy to drive growth through small acquisitions. 

Dissatisfaction also mounted over his decision to push to get more business from retail investors rather than core institutional clients.

The company’s shares rose as much as 8 percent on the announcement before settling 2.27 higher to close at R4.96. 

The Nonkululeko Nyembezi-led board said that it was now on the lookout for a new chief executive.

Interim boss

Marilyn Ramplin, an independent non-executive director of Alexander Forbes, would be the interim group chief executive.

Darfoor is the second high-profile departure after Bernhard Schluep resigned as chief executive of the group’s emerging markets segment in April, just days after Nyembezi became the first woman appointed as chairperson of the group in its more than 80 years existence.  

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

In a note during the group’s annual report this year, Nyembezi said that the implementation of the strategic plan was on top of her list and would focus on how it was  executed and that she would be “strengthening regular feedback and engagement mechanisms with management”. 

Shareholder discontent at Darfoor was evident after 15 percent of the groups’ shareholders voted against his election into the social, ethical and transformation committee.

The group reported 5.1 percent growth in operating income for the year ended June, against a target of between 8 and 10 percent. Profit from operations increased 5.2 percent in the period, below the target of between 10 and 12 percent.  

The group’s return on equity also missed its target range of 12 percent, coming in at 9.8 percent.

Chief investment officer at Aeon Investment Management Asief Mohamed said the group’s performance could not only be attributed to Darfoor. “It was going to be difficult to change a culture at a big company such as Alexander Forbes. The board and its proxies at Alexander Forbes and other South African companies must also take responsibility for poor performance,” Mohamed said.   Darfoor was appointed to the position in September 2016, a move lauded by then chairperson Sello Moloko as a big deal.


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