Dubai: Abu Dhabi headquartered NMC Health lost its CEO and suspended trading of its London-listed shares within 24 hours. But if NMC felt that this was the last of the problems for today, it definitely was not going to be the case.
In a strongly worded statement, a key shareholder and former vice-chairman, Khalifa Butti Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi, said: “I am surprised and greatly disappointed to read NMC’s statement regarding what is described as the “independent review, CEO removal and other matters”. “Despite my obvious and communicated willingness to assist the committee and its advisers, I have not been given a reasonable opportunity to engage with and assist the investigation with the benefit of the key documentation relating to the events in question, as I would have wished.”
Bone of contention
Al Muhairi was referring to the independent review that NMC Health is conducting, and which was used as the basis for the ouster of the CEO, Prasanth Manghat. The independent review was looking into discrepancies in the shareholding of key promoters, such as the NMC founder Dr. B.R. Shetty, and other issues.
The review identified “supply chain financing arrangements” entered into by NMC Health and “which are understood to have been used” by entities controlled by Dr. Shetty and Al Muhairi. This detail was released late on Wednesday, and it was this that set off Al Muhairi’s ire.
“I am immediately investigating the allegation of improper or improperly disclosed supply chain arrangements involving NMC,” he said in the statement. “I invite the company to make all of the necessary information available to me without delay to assist that process.
“Any suggestion that I have been involved in wrongdoing is categorically rejected.”
No easy fixes
NMC has nominated an interim CEO, Michael Davis, who was holding the position of CFO until now. Much of the company’s short-term fortunes will depend on the financial results for 2019, expected any day now.
But, thankfully, the company will not have to worry about one detail – how the stock market and shareholders will react to the numbers. Thursday’s announcement that the shares would be temporarily suspended is the best possible outcome under these circumstances.
Will banks and other corporate partners be willing to sit by idly on the sidelines as NMC tries to nurse itself back into health? Or, as Al Muhairi has shown with his latest statement, will the process of healing take longer?