Manulife to expand in Malaysia through $31.6-million deal for MAAKL Mutual

TORONTO – A subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC) will pay the equivalent of C$31.6 million cash to acquire Malaysian mutual fund operator MAAKL Mutual Bhd.

The acquisition will increase Manulife’s assets under management in Malaysia by about 54 per cent to seven billion Malaysian ringgits, about C$2.3 billion.

The value of the transaction was reported in the Malaysian business press after the deal was announced by the Canadian life insurance and asset management giant.

The conditional agreement with MAAKL’s majority owner, MAA Group Bhd, and several other shareholders is expected to close within two to three months.

In a separate filing, MAA Group says it will sell its 55 per cent stake in MAAKL to Manulife for the equivalent of C$17.3 million, according to the Malaysian Reserve newspaper.

Manulife will acquire 100 per cent of MAAKL by also purchasing the 20 per cent stake held by Kyra Liberty and holdings of three other minority investors.

MAAKL currently operates 27 funds with assets totalling the equivalent of about C$808 million, based on current exchange rates.

The Canadian insurance and mutual fund company has made numerous acquisitions and expansions in recent years as part of a strategic focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Senior executives for Manulife said the MAAKL will accelerate the company’s growth in the region, where Canada’s largest life insurance company believes its expertise will be in demand.

“Malaysia’s working age population is expected to remain approximately 60 per cent of its total population over the next 40 years which, fuelled by growth in savings and income together with increasing financial literacy, clearly indicates an increasing demand for investment products,” Manulife Holdings CEO Mark O’Dell said in a statement issued late Wednesday.