Warring parties avert court battle

Alexander Forbes, Darfoor craft a deal

Sunday World can exclusively reveal that Alexander Forbes this week moved to avoid a showdown with its former CEO Andrew Darfoor and settled with him in a process that saw the company vindicate Darfoor after previously suggesting malfeasance against him.

A source close to Alexander Forbes said the company moved for an amicable settlement with Darfoor to avoid a lengthy and bruising legal process akin to one presently unfolding at Old Mutual with its former CEO Peter Moyo.

Alexander Forbes in September last year shocked the market with an abrupt statement announcing the termination of Darfoor as a result of a “loss of confidence and trust”.

Darfoor immediately approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for recourse.

In June, the group further said in a statement that the board had initiated an investigation into allegation against Darfoor with the results leading to his departure.

Darfoor refuted such claims calling them “unfortunate and ill-advised”.

However, in agreeing to a settlement, Alexander Forbes appears to have backtracked and conceded that the separation with Darfoor was as a consequence of strategic and operational differences and nothing further.

It has been previously reported that differences in strategy stemmed largely from Alexander Forbes’s second biggest shareholder, African Rainbow Capital (ARC).

ARC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ubuntu- Botho, the investment vehicle of business magnate Patrice Motsepe.

ARC’s co- CEO Johan v a n Zyl had a difference of opinion on the strategy the group was pursuing under Darfoor’s watch with his Ambition 2022 strategy, resulting in the sale of the shortterm insurance business, the cancellation of its IT technology upgrade and the scaling back on ambitions to grow outside of South Africa after Darfoor’s departure.

The firm’s new strategy, which was unveiled by Darfoor’s successor Dawie de Villers in March, previously an executive at Sanlam with close links to van Zyl, is a carbon copy of ARC’s wish list communicated to and rejected by Darfoor.

Darfoor’s departure was swiftly followed by the dismantling of his executive committee with numerous departures in subsequent months.

Alexander Forbes did not respond to questions sent to it. Darfoor could not be drawn to reveal the contents or nature of the settlement
other than to say: “I can confirm that the matter has been amicably resolved between parties. This is the end of the matter. It is good to move on.”

By Kabelo Khumalo

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