June 28, 2012 / 2:59 PM / 5 years ago

Manulife targets Cambodia's growing middle class

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp, Canada's largest life insurer, has set up shop in Cambodia, hoping to tap into an emerging middle class in the southeast Asian country.

The move is part of the Toronto-based company's strategy of targeting profit growth in Asia as part of its plan to reach net profit to C$4 billion ($3.90 billion) by 2015.

Beset by write-downs and market-related charges, Manulife reported earnings of C$129 million in 2011.

"The company sees the potential of Cambodia, with a population of about 15 million and an emerging middle class," David Wong, chairman of Manulife Cambodia, said in a statement trumpeting the official opening of its Phnom Penh head office.

The Cambodian business currently has about 40 employees, it said.

Manulife's international operations include its U.S. John Hancock unit, as well as business units in nearly a dozen Asian countries.

Its shares dropped 1.9 percent at C$10.63 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting By Cameron French

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