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NMC Healthcare will be looking at all possible options when it comes to the next chapter of its future operations. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Abu Dhabi-based NMC Healthcare will be looking at multiple options regarding its next steps, including a possible IPO or sale of its private healthcare network, which is one of the largest in the UAE.

As part of the hospital operator's efforts to chart a new course of action, it appointed Rothschild & Co as the first of two 'joint financial advisors' to review 'strategic alternatives' for its shareholders. A second financial advisor will be appointed in due course.

The announcement confirms that NMC is ready to get cracking with the next chapter of its future operations after going through a tumultuous phase starting late 2019. It saw the removal of its entire previous management and ownership - the company was founded by the businessman Dr. B.R. Shetty in the mid-1970s.

NMC, which has a workforce of 12,000 employees and its 80 plus facilities serve more than 5.5 million patients annually, was placed under administration after a UK court order following creditors led by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank reported funds going missing.

Natural progression since March 2022
The selection of joint financial advisors is a 'continuation' of several strategic milestones achieved since March 2022, which marked the completion of the restructuring of NMC.

NMC had earlier been listed on London Stock Exchange, but was de-listed after it fell into administration and the subsequent problems that came to light.

Over the last year and more, NMC has been passing through calmer waters, with a crack management team appointed by ADCB and other creditors overseeing day-to-day operations. Key milestones in the turnaround process include:

  • The appointment of a new board of directors, and the appointment of a new executive and group leadership teams led by CEO David Hadley to support NMC to pursue growth opportunities.
  • The appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited Partnership (registered in the Abu Dhabi Global Market) as NMC’s auditor.
  • The successful resolution and conclusion of material legacy creditor litigation; and
  • The development and implementation of group-wide strategic business, growth, and digital transformation plans.

“We are pleased to explore strategic alternatives for the company at an exciting time in the UAE," said Hadley. 

"The market is witnessing rapid population growth and presents an attractive opportunity to provide high quality medical services across diverse and changing demographics. We are committed to delivering continued value to our stakeholders and the millions of patients we serve every year.”

Window for new plans

At the time of NMC Healthcare coming under ADCB and other creditors, the plan was to look at all possible options to recover the monies owed to them, which are in the billions of dollars. At the time, industry sources said, the most likely option was for NMC to find a new owner.

"NMC operates one of the biggest healthcare networks in the UAE, and in the last three years has proved it's operationally sound despite all the issues related to the past management," said a banker who had closely tracked the company through the years. "The impression is that it can easily find a new buyer with sizeable financial resources."

Talk about IPO

This is why the mention of an IPO as one of the options that NMC would consider makes matters even more interesting. Healthcare IPOs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have proved extremely popular, with that of Abu Dhabi headquartered PureHealth latest last year being a notable success.

The NMC Healthcare group features 85 hospitals, specialty clinics and medical facilities under the NMC, ProVita International Medical Centre, CosmeSurge, and Fakih IVF Fertility Centre brands.

"Its national network makes it the only healthcare group uniquely positioned to serve the three most populous emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, as well as Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman," said a statement. NMC’s 12,000 employees serve in excess of 5.5 million patients annually.