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NMC Health founder Shetty resigns as co-chairman in latest blow

By Pushkala Aripaka
FILE PHOTO: General view of NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

By Pushkala Aripaka

(Reuters) - NMC Health founder BR Shetty has resigned as co-chairman, creating further uncertainty for the UAE healthcare company, which has seen its shares collapse in the past few weeks on doubts about the shareholdings of its major investors.

Indian billionaire Shetty's resignation comes a week after UK regulators said they were looking into NMC following a disclosure that he had misstated the size of his NMC stake.

NMC's London-listed shares fell as much as 9% on Monday after the group also said Chief Investment Officer Hani Buttikhi and another director had resigned.

The shares recovered and were 0.3% higher at 777 pence by 1241 GMT.

NMC, which joined the London Stock Exchange in 2012 and was promoted to the blue chip FTSE 100 index in 2017, operates clinics and hospitals, specialised maternity and fertility clinics, and long-term care homes hospitals across 19 countries.

The group's shares have lost about 70% of their value since U.S.-based short-seller Muddy Waters late last year questioned the company's financial statements. NMC said at the time the report was "false and misleading".

NMC, which on Monday did not give a reason for Shetty's resignation, said British businessman HJ Mark Tompkins would now be the group's sole chairman.

A spokesman for Shetty said that Shetty and BRS Ventures were focused on completing a review into major shareholdings announced last week "as quickly as possible and would disclose information to the market in as timely a fashion as possible, and in the appropriate manner".

Born in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in 1942, Shetty founded http://www.brshetty.com/journey-br-shetty.html NMC in 1975. His other ventures include UAE Exchange, Neo Pharma and payments firm Finablr.


DISARRAY

AJ Bell Investment director Russ Mould said NMC's management upheaval raised questions about how corporate governance issues and overseas listings were handled by UK regulators.

"After all, the private healthcare operator is not some pie in the sky small cap. It is, for now at least, a FTSE 100 company. Sadly it is not acting like one," he said.

Last week, NMC vice chairman Khalifa Butti Omeir Bin Yousef also stepped down from the board as NMC also said that there had been a series of complex shareholder dealings involving him, Shetty, and another top investor, Saeed Butti Al Qebaisi.

Shetty had said last week that he had signed over a large portion of his shares to two of NMC's top investors in 2017, while some of his other stock had been pledged as security against loans.

NMC on Monday did not provide any further details on Shetty's shareholdings. Refinitiv data shows he is NMC's second-biggest shareholder.

The company is also conducting a separate review to look into Muddy Waters' claims.


(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta/Patrick Graham/Susan Fenton/Jane Merriman)