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Dr. B.R. Shetty shares a light moment with Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: As news breaks about billionaire businessman Dr. B.R. Shetty, chairman of NMC Health, being asked not to participate in board discussions until further notice, let’s take a quick glance at the mercurial entrepreneur.


The Indian businessman was born August 1, 1942, in Kapu, Udupi. In August 2018, “Forbes” set his personal net worth at $4.2 billion.

On Monday (February 10), news broke that a legal review has been initiated into the size of his stake in NMC. The company is asking its main shareholders for clarity on whether they have pledged any of their holdings as collateral.

The stock fell 46 per cent last week on speculation that major shareholders faced margin calls and were being forced to sell the shares.

But here, let's look at a more past. 

How Dr. B.R. Shetty started NMC

He started out as an outdoor salesman selling pharmaceutical products before building his massive business empire in the UAE.

Back in the 1970s, health services in government hospitals were free back then. But there was a need for quality medical service. And that is why Dr. B.R. Shetty started NMC.

The clinic started operations in a tiny space on Hamdan street, Abu Dhabi. Shetty leased a floor in a building on the street. He lived in the same building in a one-bedroom apartment. His wife, Dr. Chandrakumari Raghuram Shetty, was the first doctor to be hired in the clinic.

NMC stared with three patients on the first day and is now treating 8.5 million a year. NMC is the biggest healthcare provider in the UAE by market value.

An avid movie buff, in April 2017, Shetty said he would be investing $157.3 million in V. A. Shrikumar Menon’s two-part film starring Mohanlal, and based on a retelling of the Indian epic “Mahabharata”. The project was later called off.

How Dr. B.R. Shetty built an empire

For the record, NMC Health recorded its best-ever net profit of $251.9 million (Dh925 million) in March 2019. The revenue gains in percentage translated to $2.05 billion, an increase of 28.3 per cent. "And it all started with sweat and toil," said Dr. Shetty in an interview to Gulf News last year in January.

"Nothing comes overnight. Hard-work, perseverence and the blessings of my mother helped me achieve all that I have," he said.

"We started with three patients. There were challenges too as at the time we started NMC, medical treatment was free in the country. Here I was charging people a nominal fee for medical treatment. Initally people hesitated, but when they knew they were getting quality service, we started receiving more patients."

The rest, they say, is history.

Awards and more

There were many awards that came Shetty’s way. Here are some of them.

  • In 2005, he was awarded the highest civilian distinction - the Abu Dhabi Awards. Also that year, US-India Friendship Society presented Shetty with the “Distinguished Entrepreneur Award”.
  • Shetty was honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2007. Ernst & Young Middle East honored Shetty with the “Entrepreneur of the year” finalist in 2008.
  • He received the Padmashree awarded from the President of India in 2009 for his contribution in the field of trade and industry.
  • In May 2018, Shetty was recognized by “Forbes Middle East” as being among the top Indian leaders in the Arab world. In September 2018, Shetty received the C3 Lifetime Achievement Award.