Massachusetts Regulators OK

Manulife/Hancock Deal

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Massachusetts insurance regulators have approved efforts by Manulife Financial Corp. to acquire the life insurance units of John Hancock Financial Services Inc.

Manulife, Toronto, applied for permission from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to acquire John Hancocks Boston-based life units in November 2003.

Manulife still has to get approval from Canadas Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Canadian finance minister.

But Massachusetts regulators report that the case was so clear-cut that Manulife was the only party that showed up to participate in the divisions public hearing on the deal application.

Manulife is a strong company, the regulators note, and John Hancock policyholders who received Hancock shares when Hancock demutualized voted 88% of those shares in favor of the deal.

The regulators also cite Manulifes assurances that it wants to maintain John Hancocks current level of community involvement.

The regulators acknowledge that some shareholders are participating in suits that accuse John Hancock of awarding excessive executive compensation and improper stock grants.

But, at this time, the claims are unproven allegations, and “we find such allegations insufficient to render adverse conclusions as to the competence, experience or integrity” of the directors who would control the Boston-based insurers after the merger, the regulators write.

The regulators own independent advisors found no evidence of problems that would present an obstacle to approval of the transaction, the regulators conclude.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.