Trading in NMC Health shares has been suspended this morning after the embattled hospital operator fired its chief executive and revealed $335m (£259m) of secret guarantees benefitting companies owned by two of its major shareholders.
In addition to sacking boss Prasanth Manghat, leaving it with no executive board members, the company has also granted its finance chief extended sick leave as details of an investigation into its finances emerged.
Shares in the FTSE 100 firm have shed around two thirds of their value since US short-seller Muddy Waters questioned its financial statements last year. At the time, NMC described the report as “false and misleading”, but launched an investigation into its finances.
This morning, NMC announced that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had agreed to its request for a temporary suspension of trading in its shares “to ensure the smooth operation of the market”.
“The company is focused on providing additional clarity to the market as to its financial position and to restoring its admission to trading,” NMC said in a statement to the stock exchange, adding that it would continue to be bound by listing rules.
The UAE-based healthcare group announced after the close of trading yesterday that the investigation into its finances had identified supply chain financing agreements entered into by NMC “which are understood to have been used” by entities controlled by founder BR Shetty and former vice-chair Khalifa Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi.
Shetty resigned as NMC’s co-chairman earlier this month after the FCA said it was investigating NMC Health following a disclosure that he had misstated the size of his stake in the company.
Shares in Finablr, at FTSE 250 payments firm also founded by Shetty, tumbled as much as 17.49 per cent in morning trading.