One week into his new role as Executive Chairman of the UAE’s largest private healthcare provider NMC Health Plc, Faisal Belhoul on April 4th set out his commitments to the organization, its healthcare workforce and their patients, and its shareholders and creditors.
Assisting NMC achieve operational and financial stability to provide vital medical services in the nation’s fight against COVID-19
Belhoul mentioned NMC’s essential role in the provision of healthcare in the UAE, which makes the continuance of operations a national priority, especially as the country and the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The executive chairman stated his instant priority was to achieve operational and financial stability to give frontline care in the fight against COVID-19, and to prioritize payments to its healthcare workers and critical suppliers. As the biggest private healthcare company in the UAE, the group operates more than 200 facilities including 14 centres of excellence, has more than 2,200 hospital beds and a staff of 2,000 doctors in 20 countries. The NMC Group is presently treating hundreds of people suspected of having COVID-19 and in the UAE has screened more than 10,000 workers for the virus in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The screening programme will include 90 staff testing as many as200, 000 labourers throughout the Northern Emirates.
Belhoul stated that under its new leadership, NMC Health plc has the potential and dedication to provide vital healthcare services to the community at this critical time, strengthen the company’s business fundamentals and increase the value of the NMC Group’s business - and consequently returns, to creditors and shareholders.
Belhoul praised the thousands of doctors, nurses and other healthcare experts at NMC for their continued dedication. “I commit to showing the same levels of support for our team as they show for their patients. The service they offer is invaluable, and their contribution to this country cannot be overstated,” he stated.
New Executive Chairman calls for temporary standstill from creditors to allow time to prepare and activate recovery plan
Belhoul also called for patience and prudence from his creditors – calling for a temporary standstill to debt repayments to allow the new management team to prepare and activate a recovery plan which would provide greater value for all parties. He also thanked those lenders, who had voiced their support for his appointment, stating: “There are considerable downsides to the company and its creditors if we were to be placed into administration. This would cause instability to the operating businesses of the NMC Group, creating additional pressure on the group’s liquidity and decreasing value for all creditors. This would be damaging not only to the interests of creditors but, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, would potentially put lives at risk.”
Commitment to transparency, fair payment of creditors and recovery of misused funds
NMC’s new executive chairman also stated that he fully understood the duties owed to the company’s creditors as the primary economic stakeholders in the NMC Group and vowed that he would do all in his power to cooperate with authorities in the UAE and UK to recover misused funds and make sure those involved in any wrongdoing were prosecuted. “I recognize the position in which the NMC Group finds itself and, as executive chairman, I will be undertaking a review to enforce governance and control structures and achieve operational stability for the NMC Group as rapidly as possible,” stated Belhoul. “We are working in full cooperation and in close dialogue with authorities in the UAE and UK, including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and will vigorously chase down the perpetrators for return of these funds.”
NMC has committed to treating all creditors equally and not taking actions that prejudice the position of certain creditors associate to others. “Departing from these principles by acceding to the demands of any individual creditor would jeopardize the operating businesses of the NMC Group, increasing the risk of customers and suppliers terminating contracts or re-negotiating terms and putting even more pressure on the group’s liquidity,” stated Belhoul.
To bring independence and transparency to the finance and treasury functions, the board has also appointed PwC to advise on liquidity and operational matters and appointed Moelis as its independent financial advisor to determine the extent of, and help in the restructuring of, the NMC Group’s debt.
Belhoul’s appointment was made after the company’s non-executive directors uncovered alleged theft and excess undisclosed borrowings by former directors of the company. Belhoul is one of the most highly regarded healthcare business leaders in the region. He is the founder of Ithmar Capital Partners and at present serves as its Chairman and also founded Amanat Holdings PJSC, one of the GCC's largest integrated healthcare and education publicly listed investment companies. Further, Belhoul was chairman of the board for a number of business groups and associations, including the UAE Private Hospitals Council and the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Equipment Business Group and was a board member of Al Noor, an FTSE 250 company.