JOHANNESBURG - Peter Moyo’s legal wrangle with Old Mutual took another turn yesterday as the under-fire chief executive demanded a R250 million settlement to leave the insurer.
Moyo’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, yesterday told Business Report that they had filed court papers with regard to this matter as part of fighting for the return of his job.
“He is suing Old Mutual for R250m. He is saying that they breached the provisions of his contract. We filed the papers at the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday last week,” Mabuza said.
“This matter is different from the ongoing case of contempt of court. “Old Mutual has until Tuesday to file their papers in that matter.” Moyo was dismissed by Old Mutual without a disciplinary hearing in June over what the insurer called a conflict of interest in boutique investment firm NMT Capital, a company he co-founded.
He was replaced in the interim by Iain Williamson, a veteran at Old Mutual of 26 years standing.
When he was dismissed, Moyo received R36m for “doing the job” and R4m for his six months notice period. Old Mutual accused Moyo of violating the terms of his employment contract by allegedly placing his private financial interests ahead of the company.
The 174-year-old insurer said Moyo chaired a meeting of the NMT Capital board at which it was decided to pay an ordinary dividend of R105m, while omitting to pay a R65.5m preference share dividend due to Old Mutual as it holds a 20 percent stake in NMT.
Following months of legal wrangling despite twice being temporarily reinstated by the court, Moyo has also sued Old Mutual and its directors for contempt of court after refusing to let him resume his duties.
The company twice prevented Moyo from resuming his duties on the grounds that it was appealing the ruling that temporarily reinstated him. The court, however, last week deferred judgment and outlined a number of steps that the parties should take over the following 10 days before the matter returns to the full bench of three High Court judges.
In a statement, Old Mutual said: “The public spectacle Mr Moyo manufactures in his demand to resume his duties suggests that he continues to place his interests ahead of those of Old Mutual and its stakeholders.
“This lack of regard for the company’s interests created the board’s loss of confidence in the first place.” Old Mutual’s spokesperson, Tabby Tsengiwe, denied that Moyo’s lawsuit was for breach of contract, but said it was for damages. Tsengiwe requested to be sent an email but did not immediately respond with the official position regarding this lawsuit. Old Mutual shares have taken a hit, declining 18 percent since May when Moyo was first suspended by the board for a breakdown in trust and confidence. Yesterday, the company closed 0.26 percent lower opn the JSE at R19.42.