Manulife Japan Relatively Unscathed, But Could See Q2 Impact

Includes: EWJ, EZJ, JPXN, MFC
by: Streetwise Blog

By Tara Perkins

The operations of Manulife Financial’s Japanese unit, one of the Canadian insurer’s most important, have pulled through the earthquake relatively unscathed.

“At this time we are aware of no serious injuries or deaths of our people, but public communications are still down in many locations so we won’t be certain for a few days at least,” Manulife Financial chief executive Donald Guloien said in an e-mail. “Many of our employees are stranded, because many transportation systems were not operational, or because their homes were damaged, so we have made accommodation for them in our offices.”

The company’s buildings are not damaged and its networks and systems all continue to operate so customer service will not be affected, he added. Manulife Japan has its own sales force of more than 3,000 advisors, and the Tokyo-based business has 8 regional offices and about 120 sales offices.

“I was in Japan just last week, and am proud to say that we prepare well for these emergencies, and have further backup plans which have thankfully not had to be activated,” Mr. Guloien said. “Employees are provided with helmets, offices are designed with these risks in mind, and our people practice emergency procedures regularly.”

Mr. Guloien got in touch with Canadian Ambassador Jonathan Fried to offer assistance, and says the company will be donating to relief efforts.

Desjardins Securities Inc. analyst Michael Goldberg said in a research note Friday that Manulife might have exposure to the disaster through its catastrophe property and casualty reinsurance business.

Any hit it might take is not expected to have a material impact on its earnings this year, but could have a material impact in an upcoming quarter (with materiality being in the neighbourhood of 5%).

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