Insurance Group Britam Holdings has appointed Tavaziva Madzinga, a strategy expert, as its chief executive to replace long-serving Benson Wairegi, who is retiring at the end of this month after 40 years of service.
The appointment of Mr Madzinga, an actuarial scientist who previously served as chief executive of Old Mutual’s operation in Kenya, takes effect on February 1, 2021 and ends a two-year talent search.
He is credited with successfully developing, driving and executing Old Mutual’s strategy in Southern and East Africa as well as helping to transform Swiss Re’s insurance and savings business in the UK and Ireland.
“The board is confident that the company will benefit immensely from Mr Madzinga’s skills, knowledge and vast experience,” Britam’s chairman, Andrew Hollas, said in a statement.
The move breaks the trend among Kenya’s largest insurers of picking Kenyans to lead their management teams.
Mr Wairegi was initially scheduled to retire at the end of last year but his tenure was extended to allow a smooth transition to a new CEO.
Britam said Mr Wairegi will continue to serve the company in “different capacities”, hinting at possible advisory roles for the long-serving boss.
Mr Madzinga, a Zimbabwean national, has over 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry and has served in various capacities, including as chief executive of Swiss Re (UK & Ireland).
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Cape Town and has attended INSEAD Business School, France and Harvard Business School.
His extensive experience in multiple insurance markets is expected to help him manage Britam, whose operations have grown more complex in recent years.
His previous stint as chief executive of Old Mutual in Kenya gives him familiarity with the local business environment.
Through a mix of organic growth and acquisitions, Britam now has operations in seven countries –Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania.
The company offers life and general insurance besides running asset management, property investment and portfolio investments.
Mr Wairegi leaves behind a mixed legacy at Britam. He spearheaded the company’s growth and diversification over decades.
“On behalf of our shareholders and the board, I want to express my deep appreciation to Wairegi for his steady leadership which has seen Britam experience rapid growth during his tenure as the group managing director,” Mr Hollas said.
“The board appreciates Wairegi’s service and wish him the very best in his future endeavours.”
Britam has grown shareholder wealth by 1.66 percent, including dividends, since its initial public offering (IPO) in September 2011 at an offer price of Sh9 per share.
The performance excludes the impact of new shares that were created and issued to new institutional investors, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in the past few years.
Britam’s share price had rallied to hit highs of Sh40 in 2014 but has receded to the current levels of Sh7 on a mix of factors, including the general bear market and major losses at its associate HF Group.
Some of the insurer’s long-term investors have, however, made gains running into hundreds of millions of shillings from sale of part of their shares that they acquired at a much lower price decades ago.
They include billionaires Jimnah Mbaru and Peter Munga.