NMC Heads to Administration After Giving In to Creditor Demands

(Bloomberg) -- NMC Health Plc bowed to creditor demands to be placed into administration, saying it’s in no position to contest Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC’s efforts to install new management.

The troubled Middle Eastern hospital operator said on the eve of a London court hearing that it expects to be placed into administration “in due course.” NMC’s new chairman had resisted creditors arguing that such a move would endanger lives as the coronavirus spreads across the United Arab Emirates.

London-listed NMC, founded by Indian entrepreneur Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, had seen its stock plunge before it was suspended from trading amid allegations of fraud. Most of NMC’s senior management has resigned since it revealed more than $4 billion of undisclosed debt. The company was also dropped from the FTSE 100 index.

“Although a setback for regional markets, the outcome of this court process will set an important precedent,” said Ahmad Alanani, chief executive officer of Sancta Capital, a Dubai-based investor focused on special situations in the Middle East. “We hope that an administration will ultimately cleanse NMC’s balance sheet, identify the culprits behind this staggering default and help the business move past these events constructively.”

U.K. Investigation

With a market value of $2.4 billion and total debt of $6.6 billion, NMC faces an investigation by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s exposure is about $981 million, while Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC has revealed a $541 million exposure to NMC, risking almost half of its annual profit. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC has reported extending $291.4 million to NMC.

NMC Heads to Administration After Giving In to Creditor Demands

In a separate statement, NMC Chairman Faisal Belhoul, urged administrators to provide stable management and ensure liquidity to maintain healthcare services.

“Banks and creditors involved in the administration process have a clear and pressing duty to extend credit lines and ensure that the company has the necessary liquidity to maintain healthcare operations,” Belhoul said.

From BI: ADCB’s Credit Quality Could Reflect Macroeconomic Shock and NMC

NMC was the first company from Abu Dhabi to list on the London stock exchange in 2012. The hospital operator’s troubles have renewed concerns about the lack of corporate governance in the U.A.E. where both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the past decade have transformed into two of the Middle East’s leading financial centers.

The move by the bank echoes that of another financial crisis in the Gulf, where a Kuwaiti fund helped precipitate the collapse of Dubai’s marquee investment firm Abraaj Group by pushing for administration in court. Meanwhile Abu Dhabi is still grappling with the fallout of the global scandal involving Malaysian sovereign fund 1MDB.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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