Manulife kills off AIC brand in fund shakeup

By Steven Lamb | August 23, 2010 | Last updated on August 23, 2010
4 min read

Manulife Mutual Funds has announced a massive overhaul of its offerings, including new funds, new names and a couple of new fund managers. The company is also retiring the Elliott & Page Ltd. name as a legal entity, changing it to Manulife Asset Management Ltd..

Manulife also took this opportunity to largely do away with the AIC brand, which it acquired in August 2009. Many funds were terminated and merged into similar mandates, while others were renamed with the “AIC” brand replaced by the “Manulife” brand. For example, the AIC Advantage Fund has been renamed as the Manulife Advantage Fund. Also, the word “Corporate” was dropped from “Corporate Class” offerings.

The move was part of a broad rebranding of funds to boost the Manulife name. For example, the Brookfield Redding Global Infrastructure Corporate Class was rebranded as the Manulife Global Infrastructure Fund, and Copernican International Dividend Income Fund was renamed Manulife International Dividend Income Fund.

Manulife has received security-holder approvals to terminate six corporate class funds, merging them into similar investment mandates. These mergers will be completed on or about Oct. 23, 2010.

A slew of tax-deferred and taxable trust funds will also be terminated, 14 in total, and merged with similar mandates, on or about Nov. 19, 2010.

Effective as of the close of business on or about Oct. 18, 2010 in the case of a merger between two corporate classes, and on or about Nov. 15, 2010, in the case of a merger between two mutual fund trusts. Each terminating fund will cease distribution of new securities.

Manulife also changed the name of eight Mawer-advised funds; a change which simply involved removing Mawer’s name from the fund. One exception is the Manulife Mawer Canadian Equity Class, which has been renamed Manulife Canadian Investment Class.

Also renamed were:

• Manulife China Opportunities Class, now the Manulife China Class; • Manulife Japan Opportunities Class, now Manulife Japan Class; and • Manulife SEAMARK Total Global Equity Class, now Manulife Total Global Equity Class.

On or about Dec. 1, 2010, the portfolio sub-advisor of Manulife Japan Class will change from Manulife Asset Management (Hong Kong) Ltd. to MFC Global Investment Management (Japan) Ltd. The portfolio manager of the fund will change at the same time to Hidehiro Tomioka from Linda Csellak.

On or about Sept. 1, 2010, the portfolio management for the Manulife Canadian Core Fund and Manulife Canadian Core Class will change to Ted Whitehead from Pat McHugh.

At this time, Manulife says no other changes have been made to the sub-advisors of the affected funds.

The following funds will be closed:

• Manulife Leaders Income Portfolio (formerly Value Leaders Income Portfolio) (Class T4 only); • Manulife Mutual Funds has announced that it will terminate Class T4 securities of the Manulife Leaders Income Portfolio on or about Nov. 19, 2010; and • Manulife U.S. Money Market Fund (formerly AIC U.S. Money Market Fund)

Manulife Mutual Funds will also cap all retail series of the Manulife U.S. Money Market Fund, including systematic transfers, effective immediately. The fund will be terminated on or about Nov. 19, 2010.

Today’s news wasn’t all about mergers and terminations, though. Manulife also announced the launch of a handful of new funds, including three income focused offerings.

Manulife Strategic Income Class is a corporate class version of a fund managed by Dan Janis. The fund will use forward contracts to generate a return intended to mimic that of a diversified portfolio of government and corporate debt.

Manulife Floating Rate Income Fund will benefit investors in the event of rising interest rates, as it invests in variable rate debt.

Manulife Short Term Bond Fund is intended to reduce volatility in an investor’s portfolio, and employs an active, value-oriented investment style based on fundamental research.

“With these new funds, Manulife continues to demonstrate leadership and our expertise in fixed income investing by increasing the choices advisors have when building their clients’ income portfolios,” says Jeff Ray, assistant vice-president, mutual fund products, with Manulife. “These new funds significantly expand our spectrum of fixed income funds and provide advisors and investors with a range of investment options to meet their income and yield requirements.”

Also launched today was the Manulife Canadian Opportunities Fund, along with a matching corporate class offering. The mandate will “focus on Canada but also employ ‘go anywhere’ mandates,” according to the firm. The fund will be managed by Ted Whitehead, who is also lead manager of the Manulife Growth Opportunities Fund.

Finally, the Manulife Canadian Balanced Fund was launched today, which features the Mawer Investment Management as sub-advisor and Craig Senyk as fund manager.

“The portfolio management strength on these funds really stands out,” says Ray. “They’ll be managed by experienced managers who currently oversee other top performing and award-winning funds in the Manulife Mutual Fund family.”

For full details on Manulife’s fund streamlining, click here.

For full details on the new funds and renamed funds, click here.


Steven Lamb