NIB plays down takeover

Australia’s only listed health insurer, NIB, has played down the prospect of an imminent takeover offer for the online-only health insurer health杭州夜生活, but says it always keeps an eye out for acquisition opportunities.

Fresh from informing the market that its pre-tax profit would likely come in at the low end of guidance, NIB management was quoted saying that it might buy health杭州夜生活, a one-year-old insurer with a financial relationship with the health comparison site iSelect.

“We have looked at a Jetstar-type brand [discount brand] for the broker market… there are a number of points of merit in it, but at this stage we have rejected this strategy… but you never know, we might simply buy health杭州夜生活,” an analyst note quoting management said.

The broker behind the note, Baillieu Holst, is involved with iSelect’s sharemarket listing this month.

The health comparison site iSelect has a $75 million facility with health杭州夜生活, allowing the fledgling insurer to defer payments for several years. Just over $9 million had been utilised at 31 December, a note by broker Credit Suisse said in May.

NIB spokesman Matthew Neat said the insurer “would be interested in buying any health fund, it doesn’t matter how big or small”.

“We’re more than happy to have discussions,” he said this week. Mr Neat added that of the 34 other health funds, health杭州夜生活 was likely to be more open to an offer because it was “more commercial”.

NIB has failed to merge with a number of funds since it listed on the sharemarket in 2007.

It said last week that its pre-tax profit would likely come in at the low end of its guidance of between $75 million and $78 million.

It added that the retail broker channel, including iSelect, “continues to grow and will account for around 30 per cent of sales in financial year 13”.

“We expect this trend to continue and retail brokers remain a key part of our distribution strategy,” NIB said.

It is the Coalition’s policy to privatise Medibank Private, Australia’s largest health insurer with 3.7 million members.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.