Manulife Financial to Purchase Fund Management Joint Venture in China

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TSX/NYSE/PSE:MFC SEHK:945

TORONTO, Nov. 23 /CNW/ - Manulife Financial announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase Fortis Bank SA/NV's(1) 49 per cent ownership in ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co., Ltd. for cash purchase consideration of (euro)105 million (US$156 million)(2). The acquisition is expected to be accretive to Manulife Financial earnings in the first year and have a negligible impact on capital levels. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.

The new joint venture, which will be called Manulife TEDA Fund Management Company Ltd., will provide traditional retail and institutional asset management across the Chinese market. While Manulife TEDA Fund Management Company Ltd. plans to maintain and grow its existing platform of high quality asset management products, over time it also plans to seek regulatory approval for expanding its lines of business as and when permitted by CSRC (China Securities Regulatory Commission) and other relevant bodies. Manulife continues to build upon its broad range of wealth management and pension solutions to serve its large, growing international customer base.

Manulife Financial President and CEO Donald Guloien said, "Our new partnership with TEDA provides a rare strategic opportunity to make a fast track entry into China's large and high growth market for individual and institutional wealth management services. This accelerates our expansion in China's huge growth market by several years. We are impressed by the quality of this asset management operation with its strong management team and competitive culture. The business has shown excellent performance, underpinned by its quality administration, use of web-based tools, positive reputation with regulators and satisfied customers."

The asset management industry in China is expected to become one of the largest in the world in the coming decade. Current industry assets under management of US$338 billion (RMB 2.3 trillion)(3) are forecast to grow significantly and exceed US$1 trillion (RMB 6.9 trillion)(4) by 2014. China has one of the world's highest savings rates at 51 per cent of GDP (Source: China National Bureau of Statistics 2009) and to date, a very high proportion of household wealth is held in the form of deposits (88 per cent of personal assets based on Swiss Re Sigma 2007).

MFC Global Investment Management President and CEO J-F Courville said, "We are excited about the opportunity to extend the reach of our global asset management business into China. Our new joint venture should lead to opportunities to offer the asset management capabilities within Manulife TEDA Fund Management Company Ltd. to our global clients, to offer our global asset management capabilities into China, and to significantly strengthen our Asian investment management capabilities." With the completion of this deal, Manulife Financial will have asset management companies in 9 of 10 of its operating territories across its Asia Division and will be strategically better positioned to serve both the wealth management and protection needs of consumers in Asia. MFC Global Investment Management currently manages over US$100 billion in assets for institutional and retail clients worldwide, including US$13.5 billion under management for clients across Asia.

Marc Sterling, Executive Vice President, Asia Regional Operations, Manulife Financial added, "TEDA is an outstanding organization and we are proud to be associated with them. We will begin working with the relevant Chinese regulatory authorities to ensure we have a smooth and positive transition. It is appealing that TEDA is located in Tianjin, one of five centrally administered cities in China. Tianjin is also the home of Manulife-Sinochem's newest branch location. The joint-venture fund management company is headquartered in Beijing, where Manulife-Sinochem has operated for more than five years."

"Both parties will cherish the opportunity to cooperate closely to make rapid progress," stated Mr. Liu Huiwen, President of TEDA. "Manulife TEDA, in Chinese, has a very auspicious sounding name: Manulife stands for 'abundant reward' while TEDA stands for 'all the best wishes are destined to come true.' We believe with this combination of close cooperation and our lucky brand name, nothing can deter us from achieving success."

ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co., Ltd was established in 2002. With an award-winning management team and extensive experience in China's asset management market, it currently has assets under management of US$3.8 billion (RMB 26 billion)(5). It is 51 per cent owned by Northern International Trust, part of Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. (TEDA), a large company owned by Tianjin City, managing total assets of US$18.2 billion (RMB 124.5 billion)(6).

Operating in 38 cities in 11 provinces, Manulife-Sinochem Limited (MSL) currently has more than 10,000 agents serving over 490,000 customers across China. In China, MSL was established in 1996 and was the first joint venture life insurance company in China. Manulife Financial has extensive operations and more than 100 years experience in Asia.

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    (1) Now operating under the BNP Paribas Fortis brand.
    (2) Currency conversion as of November 20, 2009.
    (3) Source: CSRC, currency conversion as of June 30, 2009.
    (4) Z-Ben Advisors, currency conversion as of September 30, 2009.
    (5) AUM calculation and currency conversion as of September 30, 2009.
    (6) TEDA figures and currency conversion as of December 31, 2008.

About MFC Global Investment Management

MFC Global Investment Management(R) is the asset management division of Manulife Financial. MFC Global Investment Management's diversified group of companies provides comprehensive asset management solutions for institutional investors, investment funds and individuals in key markets around the world. This investment expertise extends across a full range of asset classes including equity, fixed income and alternative investments such as oil and gas, real estate, timber, farmland, as well as asset allocation strategies.

MFC Global Investment Management has investment offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, and throughout Asia. Additional information about MFC Global Investment Management may be found at www.mfcglobal.com.

About Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Company Ltd.

Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. (TEDA) is mainly engaged in resource development and asset integration. As one of the most influential investment holding companies in China, TEDA has established its reputation through diversified operations in industries such as finance, infrastructure, public utilities, real estate, manufacturing, environmental protection, and hotels. With China's focus on developing a sustainable, growing economy, TEDA is committed to being a respected investment holding company serving society by its successful growth.

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 22 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$437 billion (US$407 billion) as at September 30, 2009.Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at www.manulife.com.

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This document contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the "safe harbour" provisions of Canadian provincial securities laws and the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements with respect to the anticipated benefits of the proposed purchase and its anticipated accretive impact on MFC's earnings. These forward-looking statements relate to MFC's expectations and estimates, can generally be identified by the use of word "expect", and include statements concerning possible or assumed future results. Although MFC believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, such statements involve risks and uncertainties, and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Certain material factors or assumptions are applied in making forward-looking statements, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. In particular, in making the statement regarding the expected accretive impact of the purchase on MFC's earnings, we have assumed that the market value of the assets under management and expense levels for the business of ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co. Ltd. (the "TEDA Business") do not change materially from current levels and that the information provided to us regarding the TEDA Business was accurate. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include but are not limited to: changes in the market value of the assets under management or expense levels of the TEDA Business, the accuracy of information received regarding the TEDA Business, business and economic conditions in the markets in which the TEDA Business operates; changes in laws and regulations; legal and regulatory proceedings; level of competition and consolidation; the ability to retain key executives; and the ability to execute strategic plans and changes to strategic plans. Additional information about material factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations and about material factors or assumptions applied in making forward-looking statements may be found under "Risk Factors" in MFC's most recent annual information form, under "Risk Management" and "Critical Accounting and Actuarial Policies" in the management's discussion and analysis in MFC's most recent annual and interim reports, in the "Risk Management" note to the consolidated financial statements in MFC's most recent annual and interim reports, and elsewhere in MFC's filings with Canadian and U.S. securities regulators. MFC does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that is contained in this document except as required by law.

For further information: Media Contacts: David Paterson, Manulife Financial, (416) 852-8899, david_paterson@manulife.com; Laurie Lupton, Manulife Financial, (416) 852-7792, laurie_lupton@manulife.com; Investor Relations: Amir Gorgi, Manulife Financial, (416) 852-8311, amir_gorgi@manulife.com