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A.M. Best Upgrades Rating of Maritime Life Assurance Company; Removes From Under Review.

Business Editors

OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 28, 2004

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating to A++ (Superior) from A+ (Superior) of The Maritime Life Assurance Company (MLAC) (Halifax, Canada). The rating has been removed from under review with positive implications and assigned a stable outlook. Concurrently, A.M. Best has upgraded the debt ratings to "a+' from "a" on CAD 100 million 6.1%, CAD 97.1 million and CAD 35 million of the preferred stocks of MLAC. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The rating action follows the closing of the merger of Manulife Financial Corporation (Ontario) and John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. (Boston). The financial strength ratings of Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife) (Toronto), John Hancock Life Insurance Company (Boston) and each company's U.S. subsidiaries are unaffected. The debt ratings of Manulife Financial Corporation and John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. are unaffected as well.

The rating action also reflects MLAC's role as a core Canadian life operating unit of Manulife, which benefits from incremental scale and a ranking of first or second in virtually all combined entity Canadian product lines. Furthermore, Manulife's strategic opportunities in Canada are enhanced by expanded distribution and access to new products through MLAC's managing general agency relationships and individual disability insurance, respectively. A.M. Best also notes that Manulife will benefit from significant cost savings in Canada through its integration of MLAC.

The following debt ratings have been upgraded with a stable outlook:

The Maritime Life Assurance Company--

-- to "a+' from "a" on CAD 100 million 6.1% preferred

stock non-cumulative, due 2007

-- to "a+' from "a" on CAD 97.1 million preferred stock

non-cumulative, due 2004

-- to "a+' from "a" on CAD 35 million preferred stock,

due 2011

For a list of A.M. Best's debt ratings, please visit http://www3.ambest.com/debtratings/.

A.M. Best Co., established in 1899, is the world's oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit A.M. Best's Web site at www.ambest.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 28, 2004
Words:342
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