NMC Health chairman steps down amid 'difficult period'

FILE PHOTO: General view of NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

(Reuters) - Troubled UAE hospital operator NMC Health <NMC.L> said on Thursday Chairman H. J. Mark Tompkins had stepped down following ongoing problems at the company, and named Faisal Belhoul as his replacement.

"The Board has decided that the appointment of an executive chairman based in the UAE is appropriate given the challenging period the company is facing at the current time as it reviews previous financial irregularities; discusses its debt position with its lenders," the company said.

Belhoul is a founder and chairman of Ithmar Capital Partners, which owns a 9% stake in NMC.

The news comes only a couple of days after NMC revised its debt position, which now stands at $6.6 billion (5.4 billion pounds), much higher than it earlier estimated. On Tuesday, NMC named Matthew Wilde, a former PwC partner, as its chief restructuring officer.

Ill health over the past few weeks has prevented Tompkins, NMC's chairman prior to its IPO in 2012, from participating in board activities, the company said.

(Reporting by Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)