Manulife expands Montreal office to accommodate Standard Life acquisition

MONTREAL – Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC) has signed a deal for a new office in downtown Montreal.

The insurance company says it has signed a partnership agreement with Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real-estate subsidiary of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, to build and own a new 27-storey building.

Construction will begin early next year and is expected to be completed by 2017.

The building will be named Maison Manuvie. Ivanhoe Cambridge will be the project manager and act as property manager after it is complete.

“This is really the centrepiece of our plan for Montreal,” said Ivanhoe Cambridge chairman Daniel Fournier. “Around 3,000 people will work in this building.”

The deal is conditional on regulatory and shareholder approval of Manulife’s $4-billion acquisition of the Canadian operations of Standard Life.

“After we complete the acquisition, all of our employees will not fit in the Standard Life building or Centre Manuvie,” Manulife president Donald Guloien said in a speech to the Canadian Club in Montreal on Monday.

Once finished, Manulife will occupy more than half of the new building as more than 2,000 employees in other buildings will move into the office.

“Maison Manuvie will house our staff and allow for future growth and will be a world-class addition to the Montreal skyline,” Guloien said.

However, he explained there will be “adjustments” to personnel which could lead to job losses.

“The number will depend on various factors, including our growth rate,” Guloien said. “After integration . . . we expect the Quebec staff will be higher than that of Standard Life today.”

The Caisse helped to fund part of the project with a $500-million investment in Manulife shares.

“The Caisse has partnered with a company that has Quebec’s development at heart,” Michael Sabia, the Caisse’s president, said after Guloien’s speech.

Guloien said the company will hold its annual strategic meeting in Montreal next year.

“It’s an important meeting. In three days, the board of directors sets the business plan for the following five years.”

Note to readers: This is a corrected version. A previous story attributed the quote in para 5 to the wrong person