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Manulife Falls on Finance Chief Departure: Toronto Mover

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Manulife Financial Corp. fell as much as 2.7 percent after Canada’s largest insurer announced that Chief Financial Officer Michael Bell is leaving after less than three years in the post.

Manulife fell 2.4 percent to C$11.82 at 10:33 a.m. in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the biggest one-day decline in two weeks.

Bell, 48, is returning to Philadelphia, where his family moved in June 2010, Manulife said today when it reported fourth-quarter results. A replacement hasn’t been named. Bell’s departure “eclipses” the company’s earnings announcement, said John Aiken, an analyst at Barclays Capital in Toronto.

“This is far from a positive as Michael had shown a very firm grasp on the company’s operations and, in our view, will be difficult to replace,” Aiken said in a note to clients.

Manulife, the owner of Boston-based John Hancock Financial, said that it had a fourth-quarter net loss of C$69 million ($69.3 million), or 5 cents a share. Profit excluding items was also 5 cents a share and better than expected, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Andre-Philippe Hardy.

(Manulife will hold a conference call at 2 p.m. To listen, dial +1-416-340-2216 or +1-866-898-9626.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sean B. Pasternak in Toronto at spasternak@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net; Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net.

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