SYDNEY Australia said on Friday it will sell health insurer Medibank Private in an initial public offering in December, in a sale expected to fetch about A$4 billion ($3.74 billion) and make 2014 the country's biggest year of new listings.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said in March the government wanted to list Medibank some time before June 30, 2015 to benefit from a boom in IPO issuance while the sharemarket trades near record levels.
Health-related listings like private hospital operator Healthscope Ltd (HSO.AX) and aged care provider Japara Healthcare Ltd (JHC.AX) are trading at significant premiums to their issue prices.
"The government is satisfied that this timing (December) best meets our objectives for a sale," Cormann said in a statement.
The offer will be available to retail investors and local and international institutions. All Australians will be able to register for a prospectus in late September before it is lodged with authorities in October.
The government has not given a target valuation for Medibank but the listing is widely expected to fetch about $4 billion. Added to the A$8.3 billion already raised this year in Australian IPOs, that would get close to the record A$12.7 billion raised in 1997, the country's biggest year of new listings.
Medibank, which has 3.5 million members, is one of a host of mature state-owned assets being sold by Australian governments who say they have identified some A$120 billion of potential asset sales in the next two years.
On Thursday, the state of Western Australia said it wanted to sell up to A$2 billion of assets including the Port Hedland shipping terminal and another A$4 billion to A$5 billion of assets in the next two to three years.
(1 US dollar = 1.0699 Australian dollar)
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Stephen Coates)