UPDATE 3-Manulife first-quarter profit falls; dividend raised

Thu May 7, 2015 1:59pm EDT
 
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(Updates shares, Great-West Lifeco results)

By John Tilak

TORONTO May 7 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp reported a lower first-quarter profit on Thursday due to the impact of its energy holdings on its investment business, but the insurer raised its quarterly dividend.

The Toronto-based company, which has major operations in Canada, the United States and Asia, also recorded a rise in assets under management to C$821 billion ($680 billion). Manulife shares climbed 1.2 percent to C$22.79, reaching their highest level in about five months.

Manulife, Canada's largest insurer, has been expanding its reach through acquisitions and partnerships. Earlier this year, it completed a near-$4 billion deal for the Canadian operations of the British insurer Standard Life and acquired New York Life Insurance Co's retirement services business.

"We will continue to look at opportunities that may be available if they match the interests of our shareholders to provide core earnings growth over the medium term," Chief Financial Officer Steve Roder said in an interview.

The company is also active in Asia, where sales in Japan and China helped drive segment growth in the first quarter.

Last month, Manulife signed a $1.2 billion deal with Singapore's DBS Group Holdings Ltd for a 15-year partnership that will allow the insurer to sell products through the lender's Asian branch network.

The company's net profit fell to C$723 million, or 36 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with C$818 million, or 42 Canadian cents a share, a year ago.   Continued...