Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo was awarded a R4 million settlement at the time of his initial firing.
JOHANNESBURG – There is no end in sight for the public spat between Old Mutual and its axed chief executive Peter Moyo, after board chairperson Trevor Manuel told journalists the company would see the bruising court battle through on support from the company’s majority shareholders.

Manuel told journalists in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Friday that the board was solid and unanimous in its decision to fire Moyo.

Manuel said majority stakeholders had backed the decision to axe Moyo, and not to pay him.

“Every movie must have an ending. We have never said we are opposed to closing out. We have letters from our shareholders that say you cannot put money on the table for this thing,” said Manuel.

“We don’t want to be held in neglect by our shareholders, we don’t know what else he might expect, and I don’t know what is reasonable and rational for somebody who has worked for the company for two years,” said Manuel.

Moyo, 56, was suspended in May after the board cited a material breakdown in trust and confidence, and terminated his employment in June when the conflict of interest over NMT Group became unmanageable.

Moyo was awarded a R4 million settlement at the time of his initial firing.

Manuel said that the board had handled the matter in the best way possible, and investors had yet to question the credibility of the board.

“We have engaged all shareholders, we have received letters from our large shareholders.

“Our largest shareholders are Allan Gray, and the Public Investment Corporation is our second largest shareholder.

“We have onshore and offshore shareholders, and they write to us about the matter all the time. They have not raised the issue,” he said.

The court in July ordered that the insurer temporarily reinstate Moyo, citing that his axing had been unlawful. Old Mutual moved to fire Moyo for the second time last month in an open letter to its shareholders, despite the court ruling.

Earlier this month, the court dismissed the application for a declaratory order preventing Moyo from returning to work.

The court did, however, grant leave to appeal the July order for Moyo’s reinstatement.

Manuel said the board was focused on the appeal, and to have the court decision to reinstate Moyo overturned.

“We are duty-bound to appeal that kind of judgment, because if you have a board and you give it the responsibility and accountability, and you get that overturned by a single individual who happens to wear a robe

“I think you have a bit of difficulty. We must take that matter on appeal,” said Manuel.

Moyo’s legal representative, Eric Mabuza, took exception to the media briefing, and late on Friday he promised to indicate what legal steps would be taken to bring “the latest insults to the attention of the court”.

BUSINESS REPORT