MBF Australia Ltd has said no to a potential takeover from Bupa and decided instead on a share market listing.
But the fate of MBF is far from sealed, with UK-based Bupa understood to be weighing up a takeover bid for Australia's second biggest health insurer.
While MBF could control an agreed takeover, if it demutualises and gets listed on the stock market, it would have no control over a takeover bid from Bupa.
History shows us that mutual policyholders given shares, almost always put a quick profit over loyalty, and will sell to the highest bid.
MBF has 800,000 policyholders and a float, expected to raise more than $1.5 billion, would result in up to 800,000 MBF policyholders being given free or preferential access to shares in the new company
MBF recorded a pre-tax profit of $187 million in 2006 but is yet to reveal results for the most recent financial year, which ended on June 30. In addition to health insurance it provides life insurance, travel insurance and a financial planning division, ClearView Retirement Solutions.