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Australia’s Abbott Committed to Selling Health Insurer Medibank

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A Liberal-National coalition government will sell Australia’s largest health insurer, Medibank Private Ltd., if elected at the Sept. 7 poll, opposition Leader Tony Abbott said.

“We’re committed to the privatization of Medibank Private,” Abbott, who is on track to lead the coalition, to victory told reporters in Canberra today. “We will put it into the private sector at what is the best time for Commonwealth taxpayers.”

State-owned Medibank had revenue of A$5.4 billion ($4.8 billion), comprehensive income of A$125.2 million and net assets of A$1.6 billion in the year ended June 30, 2012, according to the most recent annual report. The Australian Financial Review in 2011 cited health industry analysts as valuing Medibank at as much as A$5 billion. Nine analysts reached by Bloomberg News today declined to put a valuation on the insurer.

Australia’s only listed health insurer, Nib Holdings Ltd., reported net income of A$67.2 million on revenue of A$1.3 billion in the year ended June 30 and had a market capitalization of A$944 million at the close of trading in Sydney today.

The Liberal-National coalition government in 2007 appointed Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty, ABN Amro Holding NV and Credit Suisse Group AG to sell Medibank through an initial public offering. The transaction was called off after the Labor Party won the election that year.

Labor is trailing in opinion polls ahead of the election. The coalition leads Labor 54 percent to 46 percent on a two-party preferred basis, a Newspoll published today in the Australian newspaper showed.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Scott in Canberra at jscott14@bloomberg.net; Narayanan Somasundaram in Sydney at nsomasundara@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net

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