NEW DELHI: In a span of two days, three directors of Fortis Healthcare have resigned from the Board, just ahead of the crucial extraordinary general meeting of shareholders, which is expected to decide the healthcare chain’s future course of action.
Harpal Singh, Sabina Vaisoha and Tejinder Singh Shergill, citing personal reasons, stepped down from the Board at a time when two of its institutional investors — East Bridge Capital and Jupiter India Fund — had sought the removal of four directors for allegedly failing to work in the interest of shareholders.
The other director they wanted to step down was Brian Tempest, former CEO of Ranbaxy Laboratories. The shareholders are also not happy with the ways the directors have handled the hospital chain’s proposed sale.
Harpal, who happens to be the father-in-law of Fortis’ erstwhile chairman Malvinder Singh and chairman emeritus of Fortis Healthcare, in his resignation letter, defended his decision to back Munjal-Burmans. He said that the Board oversaw a transparent and tight bidding process advised by financial and legal experts including the advice of an eminent advisory committee.
“Despite delivering a good outcome for the company and its shareholders, there still persists some less-informed attempts to steer the Board and the company into a situation that could be perilous for the company’s future,” Singh said.
Vaisoha, a media and PR professional, said she was invited to the Fortis Board when it was thinning down to maintain the quorum.
“Now that we have completed our duty and have reached an important milestone, it is time to consider the best way forward,” she said.
The departure of directors raises a fresh question — whether there will be a further delay in the final sale of India’s second-largest hospital chain and restart the bidding war between five serious parties after the Board, in majority, had accepted an offer from Hero-Burman Family Office that valued Fortis at Rs 9,000 crore.
Even though the Board has chosen Munjal-Burmans’ offer, Fortis continues to receive revised bid from other parties.