The Australian government is selling off the country’s largest health insurance provider, Medibank, which has over 3.6 million members under two brands. The sale is the result of the country’s September 7th polls, in which Liberal-National coalition government leader Tony Abbot came out victorious.
Less than a week before the poll, Abbott stated, “We’re committed to the privatization of Medibank Private.” He continued, saying, “We will put it into the private sector at what is the best time for Commonwealth taxpayers.”
This isn’t the first time the privatization of Medibank has come up. In April 2006, the Howard Liberal government also announced that it intended to privatize Medibank if re-elected in 2007. However, the Australian Labor Party won that election and Medibank remained a government business enterprise (GBE). Private health insurance is heavily regulated in Australia, in order to protect consumers from the whims of private companies.
Now that the Abbott government is in charge, however, the country will move forward with Medibank’s sale. The government is currently considering contenders for the prestigious role of business advisor on the sale. The leading candidate is Lazard, a financial advisory firm based in the U.S. Lazard, which is led by CEO Kenneth Jacobs, already has connections to previous scoping studies for Medibank through Carnegie Wylie. The next strongest contender is Rothschild.
Whichever firm is chosen will help the Australian government decide on the best approach for the sale, and may very well gain additional advisory positions in the country. The Australian government hopes that, through Medibank’s sale, the private health insurance sector will become more efficient, competitive, viable, and high-quality. It also wants to be sure that throughout the process, all Medibank employees feel safe and well cared-for.