Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Manulife in 'Striking Distance' of AAA Rating

Bloomberg, 15 February 2006

Manulife Financial Corp.'s operating units may have their financial strength rating raised this year to AAA, becoming Canada's first publicly traded financial services company to get the top rating at Standard & Poor's. "Manulife is within striking distance of receiving a AAA rating, which is extremely difficult to get," S&P analyst Donald Chu said yesterday at a presentation to reporters in Toronto. The seven operating companies are rated AA+, or one notch below AAA. Manulife Financial, the parent company, is rated AA-. S&P will make a decision on whether to upgrade Manulife by the end of 2006, Mr. Chu said yesterday in a telephone interview. A higher credit rating would lower Manulife's borrowing costs because its debt would be considered less risky.