August 29, 2012 / 6:45 PM / 5 years ago

Manulife buys financial planning firm Wellington West

3 Min Read

TORONTO (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO), Canada's largest life insurer, said on Wednesday it acquired the mutual fund dealership of financial planning firm Wellington West Financial Services from National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), the nation's No. 6 bank.

The deal adds 39 financial advisers and about C$900 million in assets under administration to Manulife Securities, the Canadian dealer arm of the insurance company.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, were not disclosed.

"This transaction allows us to build on our position as one of Canada's premier investment firms and reflects our commitment to independent financial advice in Canada," Rick Annaert, chief executive of Manulife Securities, said in a statement.

Last year, National Bank bought the 81.8 percent of Wellington West it did not already own in a deal valued at C$333 million ($337 million) that boosted its cadre of investment advisers. In February of this year, National announced the sale of its Natcan investment management unit for C$309.5 million to asset manager Fiera Capital Corp (FSZ.TO).

Barclays Capital analyst John Aiken said the Manulife purchase likely only includes the mutual fund sales force of Wellington, leaving National with the bulk of the investment advisers it wanted in the first place.

"Overall we view the deal as a positive for both as it fits with both strategies: Manulife is focusing on mutual funds whereas National just sold the bulk of its manufacturing capabilities to Fiera Capital," Aiken wrote in a research note, referring to National's sale of its mutual fund management operations.

Wellington West Financial Services provides personal and corporate financial planning services through its network of independent financial advisers in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.

Manulife said the deal would create a team at Manulife Securities of more than 1,250 independent advisers with C$20 billion in assets under administration.

($1=$0.99 Canadian)

Reporting By Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Peter Galloway

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