NMC Health expects to be placed into administration as talks with lenders fail

General view of NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Healthcare company NMC Health <NMC.L> said on Wednesday it expects to be placed into administration in due course, following weeks of uncertainty relating to its debt levels and undisclosed shareholder dealings.

NMC said in a statement it was unable to reach agreement with its creditors despite strenuous efforts to address their concerns.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank <ADCB.AD>, one of the major lenders to NMC Health, filed an application earlier this month in a UK court to put the company into administration.

Faisal Belhoul, executive chairman of NMC Health, urged banks and creditors to keep the company's credit lines open even if it goes into administration.

In a separate statement, he said banks should ensure the company has "the necessary liquidity to maintain healthcare operations and must continue to support the salaries of thousands of healthcare workers at this time," referring to the coronavirus outbreak.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has seen its number of infections more than double in the past week, on Wednesday reported 300 more cases to take the total to 2,659.

Having "regrettably" agreed to follow this route, Belhoul said it was critical that the administration process is conducted quickly and smoothly, while continuity of leadership under the current executive board must also be maintained.

If the court approves ADCB's request to put NMC into administration, the joint administrators would take immediate control of the company’s business.

NMC has seen its stock more than halve in value since December after short-seller Muddy Waters questioned its financial statements.

The company's troubles have also been compounded by doubts over the size of the shareholdings of major investors, including founder and former co-chair BR Shetty.

A spokesman for Shetty declined to comment on Thursday.

NMC's woes are a headache for UAE's top banks, which earlier this week disclosed hundreds of millions of dollars of exposure to the company, with analysts saying they face potential writedowns on the debt.

(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Saeed Azhar. Editing by Jane Merriman, Kirsten Donovan)