Nico engages SA-based fire forensic experts

Nico Holdings plc, the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)-listed financial services group, has engaged a South Africa-based fire forensic expert Crawford and Company to establish the damage the fire caused to Nico House in Blantyre on Friday.

The blaze destroyed offices of Nico General Insurance Company Limited, Nico Life Insurance Company Limited and Nico Pensions Limited, which are housed in Nico House.

Speaking during a news conference at Nico Holdings plc offices in Chibisa House in Blantyre yesterday, Nico Holdings group managing director Vizenge Kumwenda said after forensic investigators, who are already in the country, finish their work, they would be able to quantify the damage.

“A disaster recovery and business continuity plan is in motion and we assure our clients of continued service. Office operations of Nico General, Nico Life and Nico Pension have been relocated to Umoyo House, fourth floor, Victoria Avenue,” he said, adding that there were no injuries during the fire.

Kumwenda, who was accompanied by heads and other officials from Nico Holdings subsidiary companies, assured customers of continued service delivery, saying the company has a back-up in their database.

He disputed speculation on the social media that the fire was caused by negligence of some staff.

“Those are just mere speculations. As a company, we have accepted that the fire is an accident and we are not attributing the accident to anyone up until our investigations are over,” said Kumwenda.

On Sunday, Nico Life Insurance Company chief executive officer Eric Chapola also assured of continuity of business.

The fire, which started at around 2pm, razed Nico House’s third floor and it took almost three hours for the fire brigade to extinguish it.

Nico General and Nico Life are big companies in the insurance business on the local scene.

For instance, according to a recent research by Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC), Nico General commands a market share of about 36 percent in the short-term general insurance business while Nico Life has a market share of about 44.9 percent in life insurance business.

On the MSE, the share price of Nico Holdings plc, which is 34 percent owned by public (Malawi and foreign), Nico employees trust (Malawi and foreign own 1.1 percent, International Finance Corporation (IFC) has 11.65 percent, SEM 25.1 percent and Africap LLC with 27.91 percent, closed at K52 yesterday

The fire caused panic to the extent that in-patients in a nearby Shifa Private Hospital in Fatima Arcade, which also houses offices of the Registrar General and the KFC eatery, among others, were quickly evacuated from the facility’s wings that border Nico House to another wing.

Nico House stands about 100 metres from the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) which also got burnt in 2013 and until today it has not been renovated.]

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