Nigeria’s insurance regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has withdrawn the operating license of UNIC insurance and initiated a winding up process of the company, a statement by the body confirmed.
The commission said the revocation of the life insurance company’s license, which was issued in 2007, took effect from March 25, 2021. It also appointed Hadiza Baba Gimba as the receiver/liquidator who would oversee the shutdown and handle the firm’s liabilities.
Although NAICOM did not explain why it is blacklisting the company, it is believed that this is because UNIC Insurance is financially distressed and unable to meet its obligations to policyholders.
“The general public/policyholders are by this notice required to direct all enquiries and correspondence regarding UNIC Insurance to the receiver/liquidator. The receiver/liquidator will be dealing with the company’s liabilities in accordance with the provision of Insurance Act 2003,.” the statement said.
As part of efforts to salvage UNIC Insurance, one of the top South African insurers, Liberty Holdings, had in 2017 indicated interest to acquire a 75 percent stake in the Nigerian company for 160 million rand ($12 million), an equivalent of N3.72billion – using 2017 exchange rate.
Liberty Holdings at this time wanted to expand its operations into the West and East Africa regions and the acquisition was an opportunity to achieve that goal.
“We have been negotiating with some parties in Nigeria to acquire some stakes in their businesses and we’ve made quite good progress in that regard. Liberty Holdings plans to invest up to $80 million on two deals in Nigeria by year-end, as part of a five-year strategy by South Africa’s No.4 insurer to expand further into sub-Saharan Africa”, Liberty’s former chief financial officer, Casper Troskie had said in a statement quoted by Africa Business Communities in 2017.
However, it is believed that the Liberty deal was not successful, hence UNIC Insurance became a financial liability and corporate failure in Nigeria’s insurance industry.
In 2018, NAICOM had announced a takeover of UNIC insurance. The commission hinged the move on the company’s inability to pay claims to policyholders.
Consequently, a four-man interim management board was appointed to carry out a forensic audit on the company’s financials. The board was also tasked to identify the corporate governance failures of UNIC Insurance in the course of evaluating its operational transactions.
According to NAICOM at the time, part of the reasons it had to take over the company was to protect the investment of policyholders and to sanitise the insurance industry.
The commission was established in 1997 to ensure the effective administration, supervision, regulation and control of insurance business in Nigeria and protection of insurance policyholders, beneficiaries and third parties to insurance contracts.
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