February 26, 2020 / 7:19 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm's finances

* COO Michael Davis to become interim CEO

* NMC says review looking into drawdown of credit facilities

* Suspends treasury team member over potential discrepancies

* Shares had closed up 6.6% before Wednesday’s statement (Adds details on CEO, investigation, background)

By Pushkala Aripaka

Feb 26 (Reuters) - NMC Health has removed Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat with immediate effect and granted its finance chief extended sick leave, as more details emerge from an investigation into the UAE healthcare firm’s finances.

Abu-Dhabi based NMC said after Wednesday’s market close that it had appointed Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis as interim CEO to succeed Manghat and said Chief Financial Officer Prashanth Shenoy had been placed on longer leave.

Manghat had been with NMC for about 10 years in various roles, including deputy CEO and CFO, and had seen the company through its 2012 listing on the London Stock Exchange.

The moves are the latest blow for the firm whose shares have lost about two thirds of their value since U.S.-based short-seller Muddy Waters late last year questioned its financial statements.

NMC had said at the time that the report was “false and misleading”, but had opened its own investigation into company finances. The review is being led by Louis Freeh, who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States from 1993 to mid-2001.

NMC on Wednesday said the investigation committee had identified supply chain financing arrangements that were entered into by the company and “which are understood to have been used” by entities controlled by founder BR Shetty and former vice-chair Khaleefa Butti Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi.

Reuters was unable to reach Manghat, Shetty and Muhairi for comment outside business hours on NMC’s latest statement.

The company, which operates clinics and hospitals, specialised maternity and fertility clinics, and long-term care homes in 19 countries, said the committee was reviewing a drawdown of its facilities that had not been disclosed or approved by the board.

Its shares closed 6.6% higher before Wednesday’s statement.

NMC also said it had suspended a member of its treasury team over possible discrepancies in its bank statements and ledger entries, and said it would be unable to publish its annual results till at least the end of April.

Indian billionaire Shetty resigned as NMC’s co-chairman this month, after British regulators said they were looking into NMC following a disclosure that he had misstated the size of his stake.

Shetty had said this month that his NMC shareholdings were under a legal review looking into a large portion of his shares signed to two of NMC’s top investors in 2017, while some of his other stock had been pledged as security against loans. (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Grant McCool)

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