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NMC speciality hospital in Madana Zayed, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. is considering a potential investment in NMC Health Plc — a sign the emirate is keen to address the worsening crisis at the troubled hospital operator, people familiar with the matter said.

Mubadala has held early discussions to look at a range of options regarding the Middle East’s largest health care provider, including buying a stake and taking a board seat, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private.

While discussions are ongoing, there can be no guarantee of a transaction given the complex issues facing the company, the people said.

Representatives for Mubadala and NMC declined to comment.

NMC’s troubles began in December when short-seller Muddy Waters released a report alleging a range of irregularities at the business, which the company has denied.

NMC commissioned an independent review in January, led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh. Interim findings given to the board on Wednesday revealed more financial liabilities, and the company fired its chief executive officer Prasanth Manghat last week.

The company’s stock price has been on a free-fall following the report. It was suspended from trading on Thursday as the company sought to provide “clarity to the market as to its financial position.”

Aside from Mubadala, investors linked to Italian hospital operator Gruppo Ospedaliero San Donato Spa have said they’re studying a possible offer for the company and are working with financial advisers. KKR & Co has said it’s not making an offer for the business after NMC said it received an approach from the buyout firm.

NMC was founded by Indian entrepreneur Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty in 1975. Before the Muddy Waters report, NMC’s shares, part of the FTSE 100 Index, had risen more than 12-fold since listing in London eight years ago.

They peaked in 2018 after joining a select group of companies in the Arab world worth more than $10 billion.