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Manulife Asset Management posts sales growth in strong year for institutional business

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As 2014 draws to a close, Manulife Asset Management, the investment management arm of Manulife, is experiencing another strong year featuring global sales and asset growth. 

Year-to-date direct institutional gross sales reached CAD5.9 billion, as of 30 September, 2014. Long-term investment performance continued to be a differentiator for the firm, with the significant majority of public asset classes again outperforming their benchmarks on a 1, 3, and 5-year basis.

"The year saw several important milestones for our firm, as we furthered our growth as a premier asset manager by leveraging our strong brand, investment management performance, expanded operations, and global client base," says Warren A Thomson, Chairman.

"With CAD309 billion in assets under management, including a record CAD266 billion managed for external clients,* Manulife Asset Management is wrapping up another exceptional year," says Kai R Sotorp, President and CEO, who in July was appointed to lead the firm. "We look forward to winning new business in 2015, confident in our investment teams' performance, and with enthusiasm to serve the needs of our many clients globally."

New institutional sales in 2014 included: 

• US Large Cap Core Strategy mandates with new clients in the US, China, Germany and South Korea
• Global Equity Strategy mandates in the UK and Japan
• Asia Small Cap Equity Strategy mandates in Canada
• First institutional Asia Equity offshore separate account mandate in Malaysia
• Strategic Fixed Income Strategy mandates with new clients in the US, Canada and Japan
• Canadian Long Duration and Core Plus fixed income mandates in Canada
• Total Return Bond Strategy mandates in the US

Asia net sales from institutional and sub-advisory clients globally, including large sovereign wealth funds, exceeded USD2 billion.

Indeed, in May 2014, the firm's asset growth was recognised by Pensions & Investments. Manulife Asset Management was ranked among the world's largest money managers, moving into the 30th spot for 2014 from 34th in 2013, based on institutional assets under management worldwide, as of 31 December, 2013.

Manulife Asset Management Private Markets launched last year, extending its investment expertise to institutional investors in several private asset classes including: commercial real estate, commercial mortgages, private debt, timberland and farmland, biomass renewable energy, oil and gas, and mezzanine debt.

New institutional sales in 2014 include: 

• US commercial real estate mandate with a large European insurance company to co-invest up to USD1 billion
• USD200 million forestry joint venture with MASISA closed in Chile
• USD100 million private commercial mortgages mandate on behalf of an institutional investor
• Launch of a Canadian private debt fund
• Multiple Canadian real estate mandates for Manulife Canadian Property Portfolio, bringing assets under management to USD885 million

"We've had a tremendous year of growth, leveraging our longstanding experience in private markets to work with investors to provide unique opportunities to meet their investment goals," says Kevin Adolphe, President & CEO of Manulife Asset Management Private Markets. "We look forward to continuing to build on our momentum through new long term partnerships in 2015."

In the third quarter, Manulife announced that it had entered into agreement to acquire the Canadian operations of Standard Life plc. The acquisition is expected to broaden the range of asset management products and solutions available in Canada and around the globe. Subject to receipt of all necessary approvals, the transaction is anticipated to close Q1 2015.

The firm announced it will be adding a new Global Emerging Markets Equity portfolio management team. Kathryn Langridge and Philip Ehrmann will join the organisation, effective 31 December, 2014 and 8 January, 2015, respectively. Langridge will be Senior Managing Director, Senior Portfolio Manager, and Head of Global Emerging Markets Equity. Ehrmann will be Senior Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager, supporting Langridge. Following FCA regulatory approval, they will manage a global emerging markets equity strategy for institutional clients and certain wealth management businesses of Manulife and John Hancock.

In October, the firm announced the appointment of Megan E Greene as Managing Director and Chief Economist, responsible for forecasting global macro-economic and financial trends and analyzing the potential opportunities and impacts to support the firm's investment teams around the world. She is part of the Portfolio Solutions Group (PSG), which specialises in global asset allocation portfolio management.

PSG also expanded its capabilities geographically with the August addition of Peter Warnes as Head of Portfolio Solutions Group, International, to help meet the growing demand for asset allocation solutions outside of North America. Based in Hong Kong, Warnes leads a team of four asset allocation professionals in Asia managing more than USUSD5.9 billion in assets for institutional and retail clients.

Manulife Asset Management added to its global investment capabilities in June by naming Craig Bethune, CFA, and Diana M Racanelli, CFA, as Portfolio Managers on a new Global Natural Resources Equity team. They co-lead the team and report to Christopher Conkey, Global Chief Investment Officer, Manulife Asset Management.

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