Motsepe Turns Down Chair Position At Sanlam


South Africa’s mining magnet, Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe, has turned down the role of Sanlam chairperson assigned to him, and has asked former CEO Johan van Zyl to take on the role.

Sanlam noted this on Monday, through its current leader, Desmond Smith, who announced at the annual general meeting that his retirement is set for June 2017, after serving in the position since 2010

Sanlam stands as one of the largest financial services groups in South Africa, and its board of directors unanimously appointed Mr. Patrice Motsepe to be the group’s new chairman when Desmond Smith retires.

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But, Mr. Patrice Motsepe turned the offer down, proposing that the Sanlam board should consider appointing Dr. Johan van Zyl as the new chairman.

“Dr. Van Zyl was thereafter appointed chairman-elect and will take over from Mr. Smith in June 2017 in the capacity of non-independent non-executive chairman.

“Mr. Motsepe will retain his position as the deputy chairman. Patrice was the board’s choice, but the board respects his decision and recommendation that Johan, a consummate leader, is well positioned to take over as chairman,” said Smith.

“His association with Sanlam and industry experience will add value to the future direction and growth of the company for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Consequently, Motsepe will remain as deputy chairman and Van Zyl will take over from Smith, who has held the chairman position since 2010.

Sipho Nkosi, who has served as an independent non-executive director on the board since 2006, was appointed the lead independent non-executive director. While Smith, who has been Sanlam’s managing director from 1993, -having joined the company in 1968- prepares for his retirement.

Motsepe and Van Zyl had a good working relationship. Van Zyl, who is currently the CEO of Ubuntu-Botho as well as the joint CEO of African Rainbow Capital, was appointed to the board as a non-executive director on January 18 as one of three UB-nominated representatives to the board.

He has been praised for transforming Sanlam from a primarily South African life insurer to a multinational diversified financial services group during his tenure as CEO, Sanlam says.

After retiring as Sanlam CEO in June 2015, Van Zyl became CEO of Ubuntu-Botho, which owns African Rainbow Capital (ARC) and has a 14.5% stake in Sanlam. Van Zyl also became co-CEO of ARC. Ubuntu-Botho is made up of the Motsepe Family Trust, the Sanlam Ubuntu-Botho Community Development Trust and broad-based BEE groups. Motsepe is chairperson of ARC and Ubuntu-Botho.

Meanwhile, former Exxaro CEO Sipho Nkosi, who has served as an independent non-executive director on the board since 2006, was also appointed as a lead independent non-executive director.

Nkosi was one of the founders and former CEO of Eyesizwe Coal and is the second vice-president of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut and a past president of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa where he served on the executive council.

“The board has put in place well considered and adequate processes to uphold and safeguard adherence to good governance at all times,” he said. “These include, among others, the appointment of Sipho as the lead independent non-executive director.”

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Smith looked out for a smooth handover from himself to the chairman-elect as well as a continued good working relationship between the chairman-elect, the board and the Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk.

“Johan and Ian have a well-established and positive working relationship, starting back in May 2006 when Ian joined Sanlam as an executive in Johan’s team. I am confident that this relationship will continue to serve the best interests of the Sanlam Group,” he said.

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