RPT-UPDATE 1-Manulife eyes insurance, asset management deals in Asia

Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:00am EST
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(Repeats story that ran on Nov 12 with no changes to headline or text)

By John Tilak

TORONTO Nov 12 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp , Canada's biggest insurer, is interested in a range of insurance and asset management acquisition opportunities across several markets in Asia, a top executive said on Thursday.

The company is looking to strengthen its position in Japan and Hong Kong, its two biggest markets in Asia, as well as add capabilities at fast-growing segments such as China, Philippines and Vietnam.

Toronto-based Manulife, whose rivals in Canada include Sun Life Financial Inc and Great-West Lifeco Inc, has made a slew of acquisitions in recent months. Any deal in Asia would accelerate its growth plans in the region, which has been a big driver for the broader company.

Manulife is looking to take advantage of its own capital position and favorable demographic trends in the region, said Roy Gori, chief executive of Manulife Asia.

"You've got a middle class that's growing very rapidly, you've got an aging population," he said in an interview with Reuters. "And wealth will more than double in the next 10 years."

The company has about 10,000 employees in Asia and operates in 12 markets. The region accounts for about a third of Manulife's earnings and about half of its insurance sales.

"An important part of our strategy is to diversify our business and to have some far smaller businesses gain greater scale," he said, adding that such moves would help improve margins and better deal with market volatility.   Continued...