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Report: Manulife in Talks for John Hancock

September 26, 2003

TORONTO (Dow Jones/AP) _ Manulife Financial Corp., a leading Canadian insurance company, is in ``serious″ talks to buy John Hancock Financial Services, the Boston Globe reported Friday.

The newspaper said the Boston-based financial organization is in ``advanced stages of negotiations with a potential buyer,″ citing sources familiar with the talks.

Manulife spokesman Peter Fuchs declined comment.

John Hancock spokeswoman Leslie Uyeda said, ``We don’t comment on speculation concerning transactions.″

The Boston Globe said executives from John Hancock have long discussed their willingness to sell the company. However, it said the talks could also result in John Hancock purchasing the insurance operations of another financial services organization, giving that organization a stake in John Hancock.

The newspaper noted that Manulife is building a new U.S. headquarters in Boston, and both companies have a D’Alessandro as chief executive.

Manulife’s chief executive is Dominic D’Alessandro. John Hancock’s chief executive is David D’Alessandro. They aren’t related.

Manulife’s D’Alessandro has said the company was looking for acquisition opportunities in the United States. The company has about $1.9 billion in capital to expand its business.

According to the Boston Globe, Manulife has a market value of $14.5 billion, compared with $9.3 billion for Hancock. Manulife has about 13,300 employees; Hancock has 8,000.

Shares of Manulife closed at $30.20 Friday afternoon, down $1.13, or 3.6 percent, on the New York Stock Exchange.

But John Hancock shares ended at $34.30, up $2.25, or 7 percent, at about nine times regular trading volume on the Big Board. The day’s strongest level of $35.03 was a 52-week high, surpassing the high of $33.40 set Thursday.

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