John Hancock Financial Services has accepted a stock exchange purchase offer from Manulife Financial Services, with the merged company valued at $25.6 billion. The sale represents an 18.5% premium over Friday’s closing price for John Hancock common shares.

A major acquisition for the Toronto-based carrier comes as no surprise, following Manulife’s failed hostile takeover bid for Canada Life (see Annuity Market News, March 2003). At the time, many observers speculated that Manulife would respond by bolstering efforts to find a likely target south of the border.

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