Lead Editor Investigations
Massy Holdings’ president and chief executive Gervase Warner says the disruption caused by the company’s annual general meeting led to his early exit from the organisation.
In an internal email sent to all staff on Friday, Warner said he thought, with one year left before retirement, it was best “to step aside and allow a new leader the space and opportunity to guide the company through this unsettling period”.
“This was a tough decision as I weighed whether it was better for the company for me to stay or step aside. I engaged the board and after lengthy consideration, we agreed that my early retirement would indeed be in the company’s best interest. I do realise that our decision is surprising and many of you may struggle to understand,” he said.
Last Thursday, Massy announced that Warner, who served as the Group CEO for 14 years, would proceed on early retirement on his 59th birthday on April 6, 2024, and would be succeeded by David Affonso.
Both Warner and Affonso are the same age.
The news comes amid an investigation being conducted by Kerywn Garcia, SC, on claims made by the company’s former group counsel Angelique Parisot-Potter at the company’s 100th annual general meeting last December.
On December 18, 2023, Parisot-Potter took to the floor during the question-and-answer period and voiced concerns about the conglomerate’s executive leadership consultant—the Florida-based, Delphi Sphere Consulting. She told the company’s board of directors that she had written a 13-page letter to Warner but had received no communication on the matter.
Parisot-Potter claimed that Delphi engages in bizarre rituals for executives, that their leadership programme is a drain of scarce foreign exchange and that the couple leading the programme appear to exert disproportionate influence over Massy’s executive team.
She was sent on administrative leave after the incident but eventually resigned from the company, nine days after she went public with her claims. Massy subsequently halted the training programme and began an investigation.
Following the AGM, Warner had said that several of the company’s directors had also done the programme and that Parisot-Potter would not be the first executive who has had difficulty in a programme like this.
“We think a part of our secret at Massy is that we are willing to do this kind of work as leaders. It is the kind of work that we have done that allows us to have the results the company shows. That is because culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he had said.
While issuing a press statement describing Parisot-Potter’s claims as absurd, Massy’s investigation will focus on the claims raised in the 13-page letter to Warner.
In his memo, Warner reflected that he left “a high-flying consultancy career” to return home to work with Massy.
“Yes, I was doing good work; yes, I was getting to work with brilliant people; yes, and I was solving interesting problems. But it was work that left me disconnected from family, and equally important to me, disconnected from using my skills and energy to contribute to the advancement of our Caribbean region,” he said.
He said that “the reality is a company, like Massy, doesn’t survive 100 years growing to be one of the largest, most-respected business groups in the Caribbean without going through many ups and downs”.
Warner added, “Pressure and tough times are par for the course. Difficult moments seldom phase me. I am very well aware that there are no freebies or fairy tales in business. You grow businesses over a sustained period of time through vision, grit, bravery, luck, consistency and surrounding yourself with incredible people that in many ways are smarter and better than you. I am immensely proud of the many things that we have achieved during my tenure—I’m a numbers guy and the numbers speak for themselves.”
“Part of my strong emphasis on developing, empowering and championing our leaders was as a result of my deeply held belief that at any point in time, there should always be two to three immensely capable persons to take any leadership role at Massy—including my job. Our board and those close to me have known for some time that 2025 was the year I had earmarked to retire from this awesome journey,” he said.
He described Affonso—a 34-year Massy veteran—as one who has demonstrated exemplary leadership of the Integrated Retail Portfolio which covers 7,500 of our 13,000 people and earns 65 per cent of the group’s revenue and 50 per cent of the group’s profit.
“I have great faith and trust in him, and I ask that you give him your full support. As I transition, please remember, as a retiree, I too am Massy,” he said.
Last week, when contacted for comment on Warner’s exit less than two months after her claims were made public, Parisot-Potter said, “The company would be aware that he is one of the named parties in my submission and that whether present or absent, he has information that would be material to the investigation.
“With regard to Mr Warner’s decision to leave the company a year away from his scheduled retirement date, that is a matter that is up for public opinion.”
She said that while she agreed to be a party to the investigation, she has not been advised of the status of the investigation.
The Sunday Guardian was told that the investigation would not be completed until mid-March.
The largest shareholder of Massy is the State through the National Insurance Board–20 per cent, Republic Bank Limited (Trust & Asset Management)–ten per cent and the Unit Trust Corporation–4.5 per cent. Combined they own 34.5 per cent of Massy.