John Hancock Financial Services of Boston has chosen Kathleen Graveline to head the firm's acquisitions group. The move is part of the firm's plan to develop new growth opportunities and seek acquisition targets outside of its existing line of businesses.

Graveline, an executive VP who is head of Hancock's retail life and long-term care insurance and annuity businesses, will "aggressively explore new books of business and outside business opportunities," said David D'Alessandro, CEO of Hancock.

A spokesman for Hancock declined to specify what types of businesses the firm is targeting. But the growth-through-acquisition drive comes at a "critical" time for the firm, D'Alessandro said. "We will continue to grow our existing distribution channels, but we must look outside that current business mix for growth opportunities, both domestic and international," he said in the statement.

Graveline will report to Thomas Maloney, Hancock's CFO. Michael Bell, a senior executive VP with the firm, will replace Graveline as head of Hancock's retail insurance and annuity businesses. Last year, those businesses made up 46% of its operating income.

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