Manulife International has signed an agreement with Yuanta Financial Holding to acquire its wholly-owned Fuhwa Securities Investment Trust. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The board of directors of Yuanta Financial approved the sale of Fuhwa Securities during a meeting on August 19. The sale involves 30 million shares at a unit price of NT$31 ($0.98) per share as base price û totalling NT$930 million ($29.6 million) û to be adjusted at a transaction date of October 24. Using the base price, Yuanta Financial estimates to book a disposal gain of around NT$487.38 million ($15.5 million).

Yuanta Financial says the sale of Fuhwa Securities was done to comply with regulations. Taiwan bars financial holding companies to own more than one investment management company. Yuanta Financial also wholly owns Yuanta Asset Management.

ManulifeÆs acquisition of Fuhwa Securities will add seven new retail funds to the international fund houseÆs current product range in Taiwan, 20 bank and securities firms distributors, around $1.3 billion in assets under management and a significantly enhanced Taiwanese investment capability.

Robert Cook, senior executive vice president and general manager of ManulifeÆs Asia division, says Fuhwa Securities significantly complements its existing wealth management offerings in Taiwan, diversifies its distribution platform, and provides an important outlet for its offshore product line-up.

ôFuhwa brings a strong team of equity and fixed income specialists that have a proven track record in discretionary asset management and retail funds management,ö Cook says. ôThis acquisition fits well with our ambitions to become a pre-eminent provider of wealth management solutions to the Taiwanese public.ö

The acquisition will also give us Manulife a significant presence in TaiwanÆs fast-growing $165 billion asset management market, especially in segments well-suited to the fund houseÆs core global strengths as a manager, Cook says.

With the addition of this new business in Taiwan, ManulifeÆs asset management footprint is extended to eight operations across Asia. These include operations in Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and two new licenses that were granted earlier this year for operations in Singapore and Malaysia.

ôTaiwan is a strategically important element of ManulifeÆs regional wealth management activities owing to its high savings rates and the growing scale of offshore fund products sold locally,ö Cook says.

Through its investment management arm, MFC Global Investment Management, Manulife has been developing its investment capabilities within the region alongside the formation of asset management companies. MFC Global Investment Management has $25 billion in assets under management within Asia, currently growing at a rate of 25% per annum.

The addition of the Taiwan investment team within Fuhwa Securities will add significantly to the companyÆs Greater China capabilities. Manulife has been operating in Taiwan for 16 years through its life insurance branch office headquartered in Taipei.

Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries totalled around $393 billion worldwide as of June 30.

Yuanta Financial Holdings (formerly Fuhwa Financial Holding) is a comprehensive financial services firm with dominance in securities investment services. The company emerged from a merger between Fuhwa and Taiwan's largest broker, Yuanta Core Pacific Securities, in 2007. It stands as TaiwanÆs leader in the securities industry in both operational scale and performance.

Yuanta Financial says it controls a 12% market share in securities brokerage and a 21% in securities margin financing, far ahead of any competitor. Assets under management totals NT$150 billion ($4.7 billion), and the distribution network for banking and securities cover all of Taiwan, with 220 branch locations and 8,000 professionals providing clients with diversified financial services.