Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

NMC Health vice chairman Khalifa Al Muhairi resigns

Mr Al Muhairi is one of three shareholders who may have misstated their stake in the UAE healthcare company founded by BR Shetty

An NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi. The company's shares have fallen by 69 per cent since activist investor Muddy Waters released a report on the company alleging it had overpaid for its assets and understated its debt.  Photo: Reuters
An NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi. The company's shares have fallen by 69 per cent since activist investor Muddy Waters released a report on the company alleging it had overpaid for its assets and understated its debt.  Photo: Reuters

UAE hospitals operator NMC Health said its vice chairman Khalifa Al Muhairi had resigned on Friday with immediate effect.

Earlier this week, NMC removed Mr Al Muhairi and chairman BR Shetty from board discussions on concerns that they may have misstated their stakes.

A separate regulatory filing to the London Stock Exchange, where its shares trade, on Monday said holdings by three of its significant shareholders had been "incorrectly reported historically to the company and the market", naming Mr Shetty, Mr Al Muhairi and Saeed Al Qebaisi.

NMC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The National.

The filing on Monday said 20 million shares held by one of Mr Shetty’s companies, BRS International Holding, could ultimately be held by Mr Al Muhairi and Mr Al Qubaisi. This would reduce the amount of shares publicly held by Mr Shetty by 9.58 per cent.

The company's stock has lost two-thirds of its value since mid-December when the US short-seller Muddy Waters alleged that NMC had manipulated its balance sheet and inflated the prices of companies it acquired. Its shares were down 2.5 per cent Friday.

NMC has said Muddy Waters’s claims are false and the company hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to conduct an independent review.

Earlier this week, the company said it had received buyout interests from Italian-backed GKSD Investment Holding and US-based KKR. GKSD subsequently confirmed it could bid, but KKR said it does not intend to make an offer.

Mr Al Muhairi is the founder and chairman of Abu Dhabi-based KBBO Group, which has investments in healthcare, education, retail, financial services and technology. He is also vice chairman of Centurion Investment, which is led by Mr Al Qebaisi.

He is NMC’s second biggest shareholder, according to Refinitiv data. NMC’s website says Mr Al Muhairi “led its successful IPO and premium listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2012”.

Following its 2012 London listing, NMC was promoted to the blue chip FTSE 100 index in 2017.

NMC Health owns and manages more than 200 healthcare facilities, including hospitals, medical centres, day surgery centres and home health clinics across the UAE, UK and Europe. It treats more than 8.5 million patients a year, according to its website.

In 2019, NMC reported lower net profit for the first half of the year of $138.1 million (Dh506.8m) while revenue climbed 33 per cent year-on-year to $1.24 billion.

Also on Friday, following the resignation announcement, the company said it received notification from the advisers to Mr Al Muhairi and Mr Al Qebaisi in response to the reviews being undertaken in order to verify their total interests in the company. Of the approximately 20.4 million shares held by BRS, the advisors said 13.5 million were transferred to First Abu Dhabi Bank and 2.6 million pledged to United Arab Bank. Nearly 1.99 million of those pledged to UAB have been sold as enforcement of security.

A further 6.5 million were transferred to Al Salam Bank Bahrain, of which 6.17 million have been sold.

The advisers said they are “unable to advise the company to the current position in the remaining 428,571 shares”, as well as the position in relation to approximately 11.5 million shares understood to be held by FAB and 324,210 shares understood to be held by Al Salam.

Updated: February 15, 2020 05:54 PM

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