TORONTO, May 19, 2004 – Sun Life Financial Inc. continues its successful international expansion, Donald A. Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, told the annual meeting of shareholders today.
Illustrating the success of Sun Life Financial’s international vision, Stewart said individual insurance sales in India have grown by almost 200 per cent and the direct sales force has grown to 10,000 from 5,500 a year ago. Sun Life Financial operates in India through a joint venture with the Aditya Birla Management Corporation and has 33 branches in 27 cities.
“The picture for China is also bright. Following our expansion into Tianjin only two years ago – where insurance sales have increased by 80 per cent – – our joint venture with China Everbright Group has begun selling life insurance to the 13 million people in Beijing, China’s capital city,” he said. Sun Life Financial has more than 2,000 agents in Tianjin and another 500 agents in Beijing.
Stewart told shareholders that Sun Life Financial intends to complement its long-term growth strategies in Asia by also growing in the U.S. “We continue to assess transactions that will build on our existing U.S. businesses. We are ‘in the market’ and actively looking for acquisitions in the United States that are the right fit, right price and right quality,” Stewart said. Currently, Sun Life Financial has two U.S. business groups: life insurance/annuity operations; and an investment management subsidiary, Massachusetts Financial Services Company (MFS).
Stewart noted that the centerpiece for Sun Life Financial’s international growth strategy is its strong Canadian base. At a time when consolidation in the insurance sector both in Canada and North America is increasing, he noted that Sun Life Financial has “finished one of the largest integrations in Canadian corporate history – – our merger with Clarica – – on time, on target and on the money. What we have built with Sun Life Financial Canada is a market leader, a centre of excellence, a place of best practice, innovation and high performance.”
Stewart also commented on recent financial settlements between MFS and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S., saying that Sun Life Financial acted quickly and decisively. “We appointed new leadership, changed policies and strengthened our governance frameworks.”
Stewart said Sun Life Financial is strong, moving forward and the future is bright. “We recently reported our best operating quarter ever and all business lines are producing positive results, gaining momentum, contributing to the overall picture.”
Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of wealth accumulation and protection products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Tracing its roots back to 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2004, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of CDN$370 billion.
Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF. (www.sunlife.com)