Belhoul named NMC Health chairman as Tompkins quits

Decision taken amid desire of remaining board members to focus on challenges ahead for the company

  
General view of NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 11, 2020.

General view of NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 11, 2020.

REUTERS/Satish Kumar
UAE - The chairman and director of leading hospital operator NMC Health, HJ Mark Tompkins, has stepped down, days after the embattled firm disclosed that its debt position had piled up to $6.6 billion from the previously estimated $5 billion.

NMC Health said Tompkins has been replaced Faisal Belhoul, who is currently serving as the managing director of Ithmar Capital Partners, which owns a 9 per cent stake in the healthcare provider. The company has been bedeviled by mounting debts amid an unfolding saga of financial irregularities that had forced its founder and co-chairman BR Shetty and his team, including former CEO Prashant Manghat, to step down over the past few weeks.

Tompkins, who had been chairman since before NMC had gone public in 2012, has suffered from ill health over the past few weeks. This had prevented his participation in board activities. He has stepped down with immediate effect, NMC said.

"This decision was taken as a result of the difficult period which NMC has faced and a desire of the remaining board members to focus on the challenges ahead for the company," NMC said.

"The board has decided that the appointment of an executive chairman based in the UAE is appropriate given the challenging period the company is facing at the current time as it reviews previous financial irregularities; discusses its debt position with its lenders," the company said. "'Faisal's experience and local contacts will be of great value to the company in its present circumstances," said Michael Davis, interim CEO of NMC.

Belhoul is also a founder of Amanat Holdings, one of the largest investment companies in integrated healthcare and education. Apart from those roles, he also served in various other positions, including as a board member of Al Noor, the FTSE 250 healthcare company, whose listing Belhoul led in London in 2013.

NMC Health's fortunes faced a sudden reversal as it got embroiled in a series of financial scandals ever since Muddy Waters Research accused that the healthcare provider had inflated cash balances, overpaid for its assets and understated its debt. Its turmoil deepened amid disclosures of mammoth debt currently estimated to be around $6.6 billion, higher than the $5 billion revealed earlier this month and far higher than the $2.1 billion declared in its accounts.

Recently, NMC appointed a new chief restructuring officer to sort out its finances. NMC Health said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange, where its shares trade, that the company owes money through 75 debt facilities to over 80 financial institutions,. This includes a $360 million convertible bond and $400 million sukuk.

"NMC is continuing to work with its advisers to understand the exact nature and quantum of the undisclosed facilities, including the circumstances in which they were obtained," it said.

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