Sanlam [JSE: SLM] has named a new group CEO, a new financial director and a new board chairperson in a surprise announcement.
The decision comes months before its current CEO Ian Kirk's five-year contract is scheduled to end in December.
The financial services group, in an update to shareholders on Tuesday, said Paul Hanratty - who has been serving as an independent non-executive director on the Sanlam Board since April 2017 - will take over the reins in July as CEO. Kirk will stay on to assist him till until his contract ends.
Meanwhile, the group's former CEO and current board chair, Johan van Zyl, will be replaced as chairperson by Elias Masilela from June.
"Shareholders will be aware that South Africa is facing very challenging times in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. Ian is currently leading the Group with distinction in these trying times and is also playing an important role at an ASISA industry level with government in addressing these challenges.
"He will continue in a leadership role in the group through these times and be available until 31 December 2020, as the situation normalises," read Sanlam's statement.
The group had indicated in its 2019 integrated report, published earlier this month, that Kirk would be stepping down as group CEO when his contract ends in December. He led the insurer through one of its most aggressive growth periods, including the acquisition of Morrocan insurer, Saham Finances, which increased Sanlam exposure to than 44 countries.
READ | Sanlam warns of Covid-19 impact on growth, but says it has a R760m pandemic reserve
Sanlam also announced on Tuesday that Abigail Mukhuba, who was the financial director at African Rainbow Minerals, will be taking up the role of group financial director. This follows the stepping down of Heinie Werth in August 2019 to assume his new role as CEO of Sanlam Emerging Markets. Makhuba will replace Wikus Olivier who has been acting as Sanlam's CFO since July 2019.
Dr Shirley Zinn, the independent non-executive director who led the special ad hoc board committee that made the appointments, said the committee considered applications from several internal as well as external candidates.
"In the end, the committee was guided by evidence of significant experience to successfully manage a complex financial services business. Experience and insight into the broader financial services sector, including peers, was also considered. Given Sanlam's scale and relative diverse business activities, the Committee recommended to the Board that Mr Hanratty be considered to be appointed as new Group CEO."