One of the NMC hospitals in the UAE. The company finds that its debt now exceeds a whopping $6.6 billion. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The UAE's biggest hospital operator, NMC Health, will need to pay off $6.6 billion to lenders and not around $5 billion as was earlier thought. The additional debt burden includes a $360 million convertible bond and a $400 million sukuk.

"The Group's bilateral and syndicated debt obligations are comprised of over 75 debt facilities from over 80 financial institutions," NMC said in a statement on London Stock Exchange, where it shares are listed. (They are currently suspended.)

"Work on verifying the outstanding debt obligations is continuing."

Meanwhile, NMC confirmed that Prasanth Shenoy has resigned as Chief Financial Officer with immediate effect. Earlier, the company had extended his leave for "ill-health".

It appointed a director of finance from internal resources to assume the operations, and with PwC continuing to support the finance function. It will progress to the appointment of a new CFO in due course, the company added.

No easy task

Adding up was the easy part... how the debts got there will be more difficult.

As of March 10, it estimated its debts were about $5 billion. Since then, NMC has found itself saddled with $300 million that is currently outstanding, which relates to facilities known to the Board of Directors as at June 2019. There is another $800 million of "newly identified facilities" that were undisclosed as of June 2019 and unapproved by the Board.

On top of that is $400 million of facilities entered into post June 2019 and that were unidentified as of March 10, 2020.

Creates a new position

NMC has also appointed Matthew J. Wilde in a newly created role of Chief Restructuring Officer. He has had extensive restructuring experience, first as a partner at PwC for 19 years before moving into "independent CRO leadership".

He had led PwC's corporate finance and restructuring practice in the Middle East for years, and prior to that held senior roles at the consultancy in Australia and the Benelux as well as being a business unit leader in the UK.

"Matthew has worked with some the region's largest companies and has been involved in many of the major restructurings in the Middle East in recent years including DubaiWorld, DryDocks World, Carillion, Al Jaber Group and OW Bunker, amongst others," NMC said in a statement.

According to Michael Davis, Interim CEO at NMC, "As one of the Middle East regions most seasoned CROs, we are certain that his expertise and experience will bring significant benefit to the Group as NMC develops a plan to address the Group's financial indebtedness.

"NMC continues to be fully focused on safeguarding its operational liquidity to continue funding existing operations throughout its various subsidiaries and to protect its employees and patients during this global health crisis.