San­lam’s Dawie to the res­cue

As a sig­nif­i­cant share­holder we could not tol­er­ate fur­ther value de­struc­tion, says African Rain­bow Cap­i­tal’s CO-CEO

Financial Mail - - MONEY&INVESTING - Stephen Cranston

An­drew Dar­foor’s dis­missal as CEO of Alexan­der Forbes was bru­tal by the clubby stan­dards of SA cor­po­rates. Equally un­usual is the speed with which his suc­ces­sor has been ap­pointed.

Dawie de Vil­liers, the head of San­lam Em­ployee Ben­e­fits, takes over on No­vem­ber 1.

He won’t be forced to take gar­den­ing leave, as the health of Forbes is crit­i­cal for San­lam, whose strate­gic BEE part­ner, African Rain­bow Cap­i­tal (ARC), also hap­pens to own 18% of Forbes. De Vil­liers also hap­pened to work for Jo­han van Zyl, who left San­lam to start ARC a few years ago.

Van Zyl de­nies that De Vil­liers has been parachuted in. “We put our views to the board, but how they in­ter­pret them is their call. But you can see that as a sig­nif­i­cant share­holder we could not tol­er­ate fur­ther value de­struc­tion.”

It is some­times ar­gued that chief ex­ec­u­tives do not need to spe­cialise and should be able to move be­tween sec­tors. Alexan­der Forbes tried this for the sec­ond time two years ago when it ap­pointed Dar­foor as its new head. He had run Old Mu­tual’s busi­ness in Ber­muda as well as Sun Life’s in­ter­na­tional wealth man­age­ment op­er­a­tion, but em­ployee-ben­e­fits ex­pe­ri­ence was sorely lack­ing. As a Ghana­ian who had spent most of his life in the UK, even plead­ing guilty to sup­port­ing Chelsea, he did not have con­tacts in the lo­cal cor­po­rate world, or even many in Ghana.

Dar­foor’s pre­de­ces­sor, Ed­ward Kieswet­ter, also had no em­ployee-ben­e­fits ex­pe­ri­ence, but at least he had con­tacts in the state sec­tor as he was a top man­ager at the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice. Re­sults were medi­ocre none­the­less.

In an in­ter­view with the FM, Dar­foor says he was man­dated to carry out the Alexan­der

An­drew Dafoor: Dis­missed and re­placed rapidly

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