Four firms said to be looking to buy a stake in embattled NMC Health

NMC is seeking a standstill on $2 billion of debt amid a probe into its shareholdings by the UK regulator

General view of NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Satish Kumar
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Two local companies, a sovereign wealth fund and Switzerland-based firm GK Investment are looking to buy a stake in embattled NMC Health.

The names of the companies interested in bidding cannot be revealed as discussions are still ongoing, sources close to the company told The National. NMC officials declined to comment when reached by The National.

Last month NMC said it received "highly preliminary approaches" from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Kamel Ghibri's GK Investment Holding about a possible offer for the company, but KKR has since ruled itself out of the running.

NMC has been facing cashflow issues which led to delays in payment to some of its staff, but has now been able to pay the majority of its employees, according to a source. The company has yet to pay salaries of 20 per cent of its staff.

“Salaries of 80 per cent of the staff have already been disbursed and the remaining 20 per cent will be paid in the coming days,” the source said.

Nurses, junior doctors, drivers and some company executives are among the staff who have now received salaries. But some doctors and other employees are yet to receive salaries for the month of February.

Employees who spoke to The National last week said salaries were always paid on the 25th of every month and this was the first time they were not paid on time.

"We did not receive any official communication on the delay. It is shocking," said an employee who did not wish to be identified.

The development comes as NMC seeks a standstill on $2 billion (Dh7.34bn) of debt. Last week, the company said it appointed Moelis & Company, PwC and Allen & Overy as independent financial adviser, operational adviser and legal adviser respectively to restructure its debt and boosts its financial position.

NMC's stock has lost two-thirds of its value after short-seller Muddy Waters Research claimed in a report published in December that the healthcare firm had inflated the prices of companies it acquired and manipulated its balance sheet. NMC Health denied the claims and commissioned an independent review by former FBI director Louis Freeh’s company.

NMC temporarily suspended trading of its shares on the LSE in February following the dismissal of top executives from the firm, which owns and manages more than 200 facilities, including hospitals, medical centres, day surgery centres and home health clinics across the UAE, UK, and Europe.

The company removed its chief executive Prasanth Manghat and granted its finance chief extended sick leave at the end of last month. Mr Shetty and former vice-chairman Khalifa Al Muhairi too resigned last month amid concerns that they may have misstated their ownership in the company.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is investigating NMC's activities after it was suspended from the LSE.