Banks Count Cost of Loans in NMC Collapse

As the crisis engulfing his business empire deepened, Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty met with Bank of Baroda officials in mid-March to discuss the $250 million he and his firms owed, Reuters reported. The loans were granted on the strength of Shetty’s reputation as a billionaire and his businesses, in particular, NMC Health, the Middle East-focused hospital group he made his fortune from, according to court filings. Borrowing on the basis of reputation, known as “name lending”, and taking on a large exposure to one person or entity is not unusual in the Gulf region despite previous episodes going badly wrong, bankers and analysts told Reuters. Shetty, an Abu Dhabi-based Indian entrepreneur, was feted as the Gulf’s ultimate immigrant success story and NMC Health, the United Arab Emirates’ largest private hospital group, borrowed without having to provide collateral from dozens of banks either headquartered or with bases in the region. NMC’s implosion this year amid allegations of fraud and the disclosure of more than $4 billion in hidden debts has left some UAE banks and overseas lenders nursing heavy losses and prompted legal battles to try and recover money owed. India’s Bank of Baroda is suing Shetty for backing away from an agreement it says was decided at the March meeting to give the bank 16 properties as collateral for the debts and to secure additional guarantees. Shetty has said the agreement was a “fraudulent document”, according to a statement of objection filed to the court on June 16 and seen by Reuters. Read more.