Western Australia's largest health insurer, HBF, has pulled out of a planned merger with the country's largest not-for-profit health fund, HCF.
HBF and HCF have agreed that it would not be in the best interests of their members for the merger to proceed, the two companies say in a joint statement.
In February 2018, HBF and HCF announced they had signed a Heads of Agreement, which set out key principles for the proposed merger. Since then, both organisations have been in close discussions to agree and finalise details of how the merged entity would function, before being put separately to HBF and HCF’s Boards and respective Councils for approval.
HCF Managing Director Sheena Jack (HCF) and her HBF counterpart John Van Der Wielen share the view that maintaining a not-for-profit structure and delivering affordability for members remains the priority.
HCF Managing Director Sheena Jack said, “At the outset of these discussions both parties agreed a merger would only be pursued in the interests of our members. While we share common ground with HBF as member focused, not-for-profit health funds – the timing for the proposed merger is not right.
“Our focus at this time is to continue delivering strong results and we remain dedicated to delivering affordable products and greater benefits for our 1.5 million members through the execution of this strategy.”
HBF Managing Director John Van Der Wielen said, “HBF has been clear from the outset that the merger would only proceed if it provided real benefits to HBF members in Western Australia.
“We agreed on broad principles for the proposed merger with HCF, but as discussions progressed it became apparent that pursuing the transaction would not be in the best interests of our members.
“HBF is very well placed to continue to ensure our long standing commitment to members remains in place.”
The deal, which was tipped to be worth as much as A$4 billion ($3 billion), would have seen the combined entity become the third biggest health insurance provider in Australia, behind Bupa and Medibank Private.