Manulife Holdings Berhad (MHB), part of Canada-based Manulife Financial, has signed an agreement with MAA Group Berhad and other shareholders to acquire 100% of its subsidiary MAAKL Mutual Bhd (MAAKL).

Founded in October 2000, MAAKL currently offers 27 unit trust funds, 10 of them being Islamic funds and 19 are Employees Provident Fund approved funds, with a total net asset value of MYR2.47 billion (US$ 771.75 million).

According to Manulife, most of the investment management responsibility for MAAKL’s funds will be transferred to Manulife Asset Management Services Berhad (MAMSB), a wholly owned MHB subsidiary, subject to regulatory approval.

With this acquisition, the total assets under management of MHB will increase to MYR7 billion (US$2.18 billion).

Following the transaction, the operations of MAAKL are expected to merge with MAMSB.

Mark O’Dell, CEO of Manulife Holdings Berhad, said: "This acquisition gives us an excellent opportunity to accelerate Manulife Asia’s growth strategy in Malaysia. We aim to build on MAAKL’s strong foundation over the coming years and are pleased to welcome all of MAAKL’s unit trust advisers to our family of over 50,000 agents across Asia.

"We trust that they will benefit and further enhance their success by leveraging on Manulife’s expertise in agency distribution and by providing access to world class global investment management through our asset management arm, Manulife Asset Management," O’Dell added.

The financial deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close within the next two months.