Medibank may be Australia's largest state IPO since '97

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Australian state-owned health insurer Medibank plans to raise up to 5.5 billion Australia dollars ($4.8 billion) in what could be the biggest state initial public offering (IPO) since Telstra in 1997.

The company indicated an IPO range of 1.55-2.00 Australian dollars per share in its prospectus lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Monday.

The government plans to sell down its entire holding through an offer of more than 2.75 billion shares. The privatization of Medibank, which was set up by the government in the 1970s as an affordable insurance option, is part of efforts to reduce public sector debt.

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Australian retail investors will be able to apply for Medibank shares from October 28. It is expected to start trading on November 25.

A price cap for retail investors has been set at 2.00 Australian dollars per share, meaning Australian residents who choose to apply for shares will not pay any more than this amount, even if the final price is set above the indicative range.