NU Online News Service, Sept. 22, 2004, 3:25 p.m. EDT

Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, is promoting Robert Cassato and giving him responsibility for more distribution operations.[@@]

The company has named Cassato executive vice president and put him in charge of Essex Corp., a unit that distributes fixed annuities through banks. Essex has been reporting to John DesPrez III, president of Manulife’s newly acquired Boston-based John Hancock Financial Services Inc. unit.

Cassato has been a senior vice president and president of the company’s Manulife Wood Logan unit. He will continue to manage Manulife Wood Logan, Manulife says. Manulife Wood Logan sells variable annuities and college savings plans through wirehouses, regional brokerage firms and financial planners.

Cassato, who has a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and a master’s degree in business from DePaul University, has responded to the combination of the Essex and Manulife Wood Logan units by creating 2 new Manulife Wood Logan divisions.

John Egbert, who was a national sales manager at Manulife Wood Logan, will be president of the unit’s wirehouse and regional firm division.

Michael Treske, the channel manager for financial planners and financial institutions, will be president of Manulife Wood Logan’s financial planning division.