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NMC administrators start selling its assets to pay the UAE hospital operator’s creditors

NMC administrators start selling its assets to pay the UAE hospital operator’s creditors

The moves mark the official beginning of the dismantling of NMC, which once had a market value of up to $11bn

NMC Health Plc’s administrators have started selling off assets of the troubled Middle Eastern hospital operator as they seek funds to pay back creditors, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Officials overseeing the process at restructuring specialist Alvarez & Marsal have invited bids for NMC’s distribution business, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Potential acquirers have been asked to submit offers this month, the people said.

Administrators are planning to start a sale process for Abu Dhabi-based NMC’s lucrative fertility business as soon as June or July, the people said. They are considering eventually selling most of the company’s assets, potentially including the flagship hospital business, which is the biggest private health-care provider in the Middle East, the people said.

The moves mark the official beginning of the dismantling of NMC, once a member of London’s elite FTSE 100 index with a market value as high as $11bn. NMC started unraveling in recent months after unearthing previously undisclosed debt and evidence of fraud, leading to the dismissal of top executives. Its downfall has roped in lenders including Barclays, Standard Chartered and the biggest banks in the United Arab Emirates.

Quick process

The administrators are moving fast, asking suitors to size up the distribution business and submit proposals in a matter of days, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the discussions will lead to a transaction, they said.

A representative for NMC said the company is in the process of exploring “various options” for its distribution business, NMC Trading, “which it has determined to be non-core.”

“The management team’s priority is to stabilise the business and ensure continuity of care at its hospitals and medical centers,” the representative said in a statement. “The group’s distribution business is separate from its main hospital and medical centers business in the UAE.”

The UK’s Financial Reporting Council last week said it opened an investigation into Ernst & Young LLP’s auditing of NMC’s 2018 financial statements. The probe started April 15 and could result in sanctions such as fines.

Medical equipment

NMC Trading distributes products including Nestle SA food and beverages, Pfizer medicine and Unilever personal-care products across the UAE. It also markets foreign brands of medical equipment, educational materials, office supplies and veterinary products in the country.

The business employs more than 1,700 people and distributes products to more than 10,000 points of sale including hypermarkets, gas stations and hospitals, according to information displayed on its website in March. The site was inaccessible as of Tuesday.

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