Finablr shares plunge as much as 65% on financial arrangements investigation

The company says its business is impacted due to coronavirus as well as exposure to NMC Health

FILE - In this Monday, June 7, 2010, file photo, a Travelex Group currency exchange booth is shown at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A week after a malicious virus infected its network, the London-based foreign currency exchange company Travelex has yet to restore digital sales and was reported infected with ransomware by hackers threatening to release personal data unless it pays a $3 million ransom. In a Jan. 2, 2020, Twitter post, the company said the virus had compromised some of its services on New Year’s Eve and that it took all systems offline immediately. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Powered by automated translation

Finablr, the UAE payments and foreign exchange company founded by billionaire businessman BR Shetty, said it will commission an independent investigation into its financial position as its business gets impacted by the coronavirus as well as its exposure to NMC Health.

“The board is focused on providing transparency to the market on its financial position as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement on Thursday to the London Stock Exchange, where its shares trade.

Shares of the company dropped as much as 65 per cent at 4:15 PM UAE time following the announcement.


“Finablr is currently taking urgent steps to assess accurately its current liquidity and cashflow position, which has been adversely impacted by a number of factors,” it added.

The company cited a number of reasons affecting its business currently, including travel restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus, the recent credit downgrade of Travelex’s bonds and a liquidity squeeze at both group and operational business levels.

It also said "adverse perceptions in the market that the circumstances surrounding NMC Health ... have exacerbated current levels of stress on the company’s cash flow position.”

"These factors place significant constraints on the company's access to the daily liquidity the company needs to manage its business effectively and its ability to negotiate longer term financing," the company said.

Finablr was created in 2018 by Mr Shetty as a holding company to consolidate his finance brands and listed the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2019. He recently resigned as the director of NMC Health, after the company was accused by short seller Muddy Waters Research in December of inflating cash balances, overpaying for its assets and understating its debt.

The healthcare company denied the allegations and in January appointed former FBI director Louis Freeh and his risk management company Freeh Group International Solutions to look into the allegations.

However, on Tuesday NMC Health said it has debt of about $5 billion (Dh18.4bn), which is more than twice the previously declared amount. The company said advisers appointed to work out renegotiation of its debts earlier this month discovered NMC's group liability is “materially above” the number last reported in its interim accounts for the first six months of last year.

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into NMC's activities after the healthcare company suspended trading of its shares on the London Stock Exchange last month.

NMC Health also appointed financial and legal advisers as it seeks a "standstill" on $2bn of debt. The company appointed Moelis & Company, PwC and Allen & Overy as independent financial adviser, operational adviser and legal adviser, it said earlier this month.

Finablr processed over 150 million transactions in 2018, managing nearly $115bn in volume for its customers. The company's brands include UAE Exchange, Travelex and Xpress Money, among others.

Recently, BayanPay, a digital payment solutions provider that is majority-owned by Finablr, secured a licence from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (Sama) to begin executing transactions in the kingdom for consumers and businesses.

Finablr's troubles have also been compounded by a cyber attack on one of its portfolio firms.

In a statement on January 2, Travelex said it detected a software virus on December 31 which had compromised some of its services. The London-headquartered company immediately took down its websites across 30 countries as a “precautionary measure in order to protect data and prevent the spread of the virus”.