Manulife Buys Pottruff & Smith; Now Canada’s No. 2 Travel Insurer

October 16, 2009

Manulife Financial, Canada’s biggest life insurer, announced on Thursday that it has acquired Pottruff & Smith Travel Insurance Brokers Inc. in an all cash deal that will make it Canada’s No. 2 travel insurer.

The acquisition was the second for Manulife since August and is in keeping with Chief Executive Donald Guloien’s stated strategy of taking advantage of attractively priced targets in Canada and the United States.

“It’s a very good deal for Manulife, we are growing on a number of fronts but this is a major move to increase our role in the travel insurance business in Canada,” said Tom Nunn, a company spokesman.

Manulife did not disclose the value of the deal, but Nunn said it makes the company second only to RBC Insurance in Canadian travel insurance. “It allows us to basically position ourselves among the top two players in the industry,” he said.

Manulife stock was down 0.67 percent at C$22.33 [US$21.53] late Thursday morning. The transaction is expected to close Nov. 2.
Manulife’s Guloien said in September the company was open to attractively priced acquisitions in Canada and the United States, but not necessarily the blockbuster deals seen before the global financial crisis.

Manulife bought AIC Ltd’s Canadian retail investment fund business in August, boosting its mutual fund arm in another big-player takeover of an independent fund company.

It did not disclose the value of that deal either.

Woodbridge, Ontario-based Pottruff & Smith is one of the largest travel insurance brokers and third-party administrators in Canada, specializing in leisure travel insurance. The company has some 90 employees in two locations: Woodbridge and Ste-Therese, Quebec.

Manulife Financial is the world’s fourth-largest life insurer, with offices in 22 countries and territories. Funds under management by Manulife and its subsidiaries were C$421 billion ($409 billion) as of June 30.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

(Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson)

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