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Manulife Securities, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial Inc. (MFC - Analyst Report), has announced its intention to acquire Canada-based Wellington West Financial Services Inc. from its parent company, National Bank Financial Group.

Wellington West Financial Services is an investment management company which was acquired by National Bank in July 2011. Through its 39 financial advisors, the company provides innovative investment ideas with a wide offering of managed investment solutions. Wellington West also assists its customers with tax-planning, retirement-planning, estate-planning and insurance.

Since both companies -- Manulife and Wellington West -- are based in Canada, there will be no cultural differences, allowing seamless integration of both the companies with one another. Though the cost of acquisition has not yet been disclosed, the timing of the closure of the transaction has been fixed somewhere in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Upon adding Wellington West to Manulife Securities, a strong force of 1,250 independent advisors will be created with C$20 billion of assets under management. Together, they will offer independent financial planning and investment management services to individuals, families and business owners, covering a wide range of investment, banking and insurance options customized to fulfill their financial goals. 

This acquisition reinforces Manulife’s long-term strategic objective to strengthen its presence in the Canadian financial market.

Manulife currently retains a Zacks #2 Rank, which translates into a short-term Buy rating. Considering the fundamentals, we are maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the shares.

Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Manulife Financial operates as a life insurance company and offers reinsurance services. The company functions as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. MetLife Inc. (MET - Analyst Report) is one of its biggest competitors.

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