UAE’s NMC Health reaffirms outlook a day after Muddy Waters’ report

NMC Healthcare said it would look into the firm’s findings and would provide a detailed response in due course, calling the criticism of its financial statements ‘baseless.’ (NMC Healthcare)
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Updated 18 December 2019

UAE’s NMC Health reaffirms outlook a day after Muddy Waters’ report

  • A report from US short-selling firm Muddy Waters wiped a third off its value
  • UAE-based company said it would look into the firm’s findings

NMC Health stood by its forecasts for 2019 and 2020 and announced a share buyback on Wednesday, seeking to reassure investors after a report from US short-selling firm Muddy Waters wiped a third off the health care group’s market value.

The UAE-based company said it would look into the firm’s findings and provide a detailed response in due course, calling the criticism of its financial statements “baseless.”

The short seller on Tuesday questioned the value of NMC’s assets and cash balance as well as its reported profits and debts in a research note.

“NMC understands its regulatory disclosure obligations and has nothing to add to disclosures already made,” the company said in a statement.

The Muddy Waters attack also hit shares of payments firm Finablr, which is co-chaired by Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty — also the founder and co-chairman of NMC.

Finablr on Wednesday said it was on track to meet its guidance and said there was no reason for the share move.

Muddy Waters, founded by American Carson Block, is known in financial markets for declaring short equity positions on the basis of its in-house research.

It took its first short position in a London-listed company in August with a bet against litigation funder Burford Capital.

NMC Health separately said it would buy back up to $200 million worth of the company’s ordinary shares.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.