NMC Health was thrust into fresh turmoil today after the hospitals operator’s founder and billionaire joint chairman BR Shetty suddenly quit.
Shetty’s departure came after NMC said last week that he and two other major Emirati shareholders, Khalifa Al Muhairi and Saeed Al Qubaisi, had incorrectly reported their holdings in the company.
Shetty’s departure leaves Mark Tompkins as the sole chairman.
It is the second major exit after vice-chairman Al Muhairi resigned on Friday. His resignation came days after he and Shetty were banned from board meetings over the matter.
Shetty, Al Muhairi and Al Qubaisi remain subject to a Financial Conduct Authority investigation into their shareholdings. Shetty is also carrying out his own legal review to verify his stake in a bid to unravel the mystery of who owns what at the Middle East’s largest private healthcare group.
It is believed that 9.6% of Shetty’s 15.5% stake could actually be owned by the other two Emirati partners and that the shares could have been pledged as security on loans.
The company also said two other board members had stepped aside today, Hani Buttikhi, chief investment officer, and non-executive director Abdulrahman Basaddiq. Both had been appointees of Shetty and Al Muhairi, making their positions untenable.
Tompkins said: “We would like to thank Hani for his contribution to the board and as part of the management team over the last three years.
“We appreciate the situation that he feels that he has been placed in as a result of recent notifications from our principal shareholders and the board accept the reasons why he felt he needed to step down.”
NMC’s shares, down 70% since hedge fund Muddy Waters’ attack in December, slumped to the bottom of the FTSE 100 today, off 11p to 764p.
Indian billionaire Shetty founded NMC in 1974. It quickly grew into the United Arab Emirates’ largest private healthcare company and was floated in London in 2012. Shetty has a second London firm, Finablr, the financial services group that owns troubled currency provider Travelex.
Shetty is viewed as a top entrepreneur in the Middle East but some analysts believe he is financially naïve. Carson Block and his firm Muddy Waters have raised doubts over NMC’s debt and asset valuations.