Mumbai: The already complicated bidding process for control of Fortis Healthcare Ltd received a jolt on Wednesday evening after Renuka Ramnath, a member of the advisory committee set up to recommend the most suitable suitor for the company, resigned.

Ramnath, founder and managing partner of Multiples Alternate Asset Management (Multiples PE), was part of a committee headed by former PwC India chairman Deepak Kapoor to evaluate binding bids received for the healthcare chain. Lalit Bhasin, president of Society of Indian Law Firms, is also part of the three-member panel.

The advisory committee was expected to evaluate the bids at its meeting on 25 April, and give its recommendations to the board the next day. Ramnath’s resignation is expected to further delay the sale process.

“It is hereby informed that the company has today received a resignation of Ms. Renuka Ramnath wherein she excused herself from being the member of the committee due to her pre-occupation. The same will be tabled before the Board at the scheduled meeting on 26 April 2018 for their consideration and vacancy so caused shall be filled, by the Board of Directors, with a person of eminent repute," the company said in an exchange filing.

While the company cited pre-occupation as a reason for Ramnath’s resignation, there is speculation that the move could have stemmed from her business relationship with one of the bidders for the asset.

According to documents accessed by Mint from the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Sunil Kant Munjal, who along with the Burman family has placed a Rs1,500 crore binding bid for Fortis, is an investor in Ramnath’s Multiples PE. Documents filed with the RoC show that Munjal has committed Rs10 crore to Multiples’ second private equity fund. RoC documents also show that over half of the capital commitment has already been drawn down to make investments.

Munjal invested in the fund through a domestic vehicle with a total corpus of Rs356 crore and 76 investors (individuals and corporate entities). Munjal’s is the largest investment among domestic individual investors, leaving aside investment from Multiples PE members.

Mint reached out to all the parties on Tuesday, ahead of the advisory committee meeting, to seek comments. Emails, text messages and calls to Renuka Ramnath on Tuesday and Wednesday did not elicit any response. Sunil Munjal, in a telephonic interaction, declined to comment. Fortis Healthcare too declined to comment.

This latest event adds to the list of issues raised by various parties regarding the sale process being currently run at Fortis Healthcare.

In a report published on 24 April, Institutional Investor Advisory Services said that the process has widened the trust deficit between investors and the board.