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nib looking to reconnect shareholders with $2.5 million in unclaimed dividends

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Private health insurer, nib holdings limited (nib), is encouraging shareholders to check if they are eligible for almost $2.5 million in unclaimed dividends before it's too late.

The company is set to transfer the unpaid monies to its charitable organisation, nib foundation, if shareholders don't claim what's theirs before 31 August 2018.

More than 9,000 nib shareholders have dividend payments owing to them, with one shareholder, in western New South Wales, owed $14,600. The average unclaimed pool is worth about $275.

nib Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mark Fitzgibbon said unfortunately the funds have remained unclaimed for a period of five years or more, despite nib’s best efforts to contact shareholders and pay them.

"We've worked hard to reconnect these shareholders with their unclaimed dividends, including by mail, via advertising in national newspapers, social media campaigns, and if they are a nib policyholder, reminding them when they contact us for a claim or query that they have outstanding dividends," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"We don't want our shareholders to miss out on what's owing to them, which is why we're encouraging anyone who has owned nib shares to contact us to check if they have dividends that can be claimed," he said.

Under The Unclaimed Monies Act 1995 (NSW) organisations are required to transfer money that is not claimed after a period of six years to the NSW Office of State Revenue (OSR).

However, at nib's Annual General Meeting last year, shareholders approved a change to nib's Constitution to allow the company to transfer unclaimed dividends to the nib foundation, a not-for-profit charitable trust, before the dividends would otherwise be transferred to the OSR.

"This is an imaginative, enterprising and socially responsible way to distribute these funds to benefit those in need in our community. It's also a first for corporate Australia," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"Our foundation will use the money to support charitable organisations to deliver community-focused health and wellbeing initiatives," he added.

About 75% of the total people with unclaimed dividends reside in New South Wales and the ACT. Around 15% are in the Hunter region, where nib was established, with 11% in Victoria and 9% in Queensland. A smaller number of shareholders with outstanding payments come from the remaining states and territory.

The Australian Shareholders' Association supports the initiative. "We welcome the media attention that this will bring to the issue of unclaimed dividends. We encourage shareholders to check their records and families to review their loved ones' shareholdings," said CEO, Judith Fox.

Shareholders have until 31 August 2018 to claim their dividends by going online to nib.com.au/shareholders or contacting nib's share registry provider, Computershare, on 1300 664 316.

After this date, outstanding money will be transferred to the nib foundation, which supports Australian charities to deliver innovative programs that make positive and lasting improvements to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of Australians across the country.