UAE-based NMC Health’s debt up at $6.6 billion

NMC Health, which has been in crisis since US firm Muddy Waters’ short attack, revised its debt position from $5 billion earlier in March. (NMC Health Facebook)
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Updated 24 March 2020

UAE-based NMC Health’s debt up at $6.6 billion

  • The company revised its debt position from $5 billion earlier in March
  • Concerns that founder BR Shetty’s financial troubles could be spreading to other companies he is associated with

Troubled UAE hospital operator NMC Health said on Tuesday its debt pile now stood at $6.6 billion, much higher than earlier estimates, and that it has appointed a former PwC partner as chief restructuring officer to tackle the problem.
The company, which has been in crisis since US firm Muddy Waters’ short attack, revised its debt position from $5 billion earlier in March, and named Matthew J. Wilde as chief restructuring officer.
“We are certain that his expertise and experience will bring significant benefit to the Group as NMC develops a plan to address the Group’s financial indebtedness,” NMC said.
Wilde has been involved in many major restructurings in the Middle East region in recent years including DubaiWorld, DryDocks World, Carillion, Al Jaber Group and OW Bunker, NMC said.
NMC’s stock price had dwindled in value before being placed on suspension since Muddy Waters questioned its financial statements in December. Following which, NMC’s founder BR Shetty stepped down from the board last month.
There are concerns that Shetty’s financial troubles could be spreading to other companies he is associated with, including payments group Finablr, which he helped found in 2018.
There are cheques that could go up to $50 million, which may have been used as security for financing arrangements for the benefit of third parties, NMC said as it announced the departure of finance chief Prasanth Shenoy after a period of extended leave for ill health.
On the coronavirus outbreak, NMC said it has taken steps to meet the health and safety needs of the community.


Rouhani: Iran cannot shut down economy despite worsening coronavirus outbreak

Updated 11 July 2020

Rouhani: Iran cannot shut down economy despite worsening coronavirus outbreak

  • Iran must continue ‘economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols’
  • The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by six percent this year

TEHRAN: Iran said on Saturday that it cannot afford to shut down its sanctions-hit economy, even as the Middle East’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak worsens with record-high death tolls and rising infections.
Iran must continue “economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols,” President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised virus taskforce meeting.
“The simplest solution is to close down all activities, (but) the next day, people would come out to protest the (resulting) chaos, hunger, hardship and pressure,” he added.

However, he called for big gatherings such as weddings and wakes to be banned to stem a rise in coronavirus infections.
Shortly after Rouhani’s televised speech, a police official in Tehran announced the closure of all wedding and mourning venues in the capital until further notice.
The Islamic republic has been struggling since late February to contain the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed over 12,400 people and infected more than 252,000.
Deaths from the respiratory disease hit 221 on Thursday — a single-day record for Iran.
The country closed schools, canceled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but Rouhani’s government progressively lifted restrictions from April to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.
The outbreak’s rising toll has prompted authorities to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and to allow the hardest hit provinces to reimpose restrictive measures.
Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions.
The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by six percent this year.
“It is not possible to keep businesses and economic activities shut down in the long-term,” Rouhani said, emphasizing that “the people will not accept this.”
Health Minister Said Namaki warned on Wednesday of a potential “revolt over poverty” and blamed US sanctions for the government’s “empty coffers.”
The reopening of the economy “was not over our ignorance (of the virus’ dangers), but it was due to us being on our knees against an economy that could take no more,” Namaki said on state television.
US sanctions targeted vital oil sales and banking relations, among other sectors, forcing Iran to rely on non-oil exports, which have dropped as borders were closed to stem the spread of the virus.