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MFC Expands With Asset Mgt. Acquisition

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In sync with its long term strategy to expand asset management business, Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC - Free Report) has announced that its unit Manulife Holdings Berhad (“MHB”) will acquire MAAKL Mutual Bhd (“MAAKL”) from MAA Group Berhad in Malaysia.

The transaction will fetch MHB one of the top ten positions in asset management in Malaysia. It is also expected to nearly double MHB’s total assets under management which stood at $1.23 billion as of Sep 30, 2013.

 The deal will cost MHB $30.0 million and is expected to see light in Feb 2014.

Post the acquisition Manulife Asset Management Services Berhad ("MAMSB"), a wholly owned MHB subsidiary, will be entrusted with the functioning of MAAKL’s funds investment management.

MHB has specifically picked up MAAKL because of its strong brand name, niche presence and a strong expertise in the asset management market in Malaysia. MAAKL has successfully permeated the local Malaysian market by offering 27 unit trust funds. MHB believes that it can leverage upon the local expertise built up by MAAKL.

Moreover, MAAKL’s 1,100-strong unit trust advisors have developed professional skills, which will strongly complement Manulife’s 50,000 agents’ base spread in Asia.

Malaysia also offers MHB attractive investment opportunities with growing savings and income, since 60% of its population belongs to working class. This mix of demography, which is expected to remain so over the next four decades, will fuel long-term demand for investment products.

Manulife is scanning for attractive investment options across the globe since the current low interest rate environment in its home country Canada offers few investment opportunities. The company expects that foreign investment will enable it to efficiently deploy investor’s assets.

Manulife carries a Zacks Rank # 3 (Hold).

Other players American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. (AEL - Free Report) , China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (LFC - Free Report) , Lincoln National Corp. (LNC) all with Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) are worth considering.

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