MANUFACTURERS LIFE PICKS MERRILL LYNCH FOR STOCK DEAL

MANUFACTURERS LIFE PICKS MERRILL LYNCH FOR STOCK DEAL

Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. has chosen financial advisers - two from the U.S. and one from Canada - to help it convert into a publicly traded stock company.

Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Scotia Capital Markets were picked because of ''the international experience and global coverage we need,'' Donald Guloien, senior vice-president, said last week.Last month, Manufacturers Life became the second of Canada's large policyholder-owned mutuals to announce its plans to convert so it raise money through stock sales.

Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Canada, formed in 1870, said in December it also wants to become a stock company to enable it to raise capital and grow by making acquisitions.

Mutual insurers are need the cash in order to keep up with growing competition from Canadian banks and foreign-based insurance companies, including those from the United States.

Manufacturers Life, formed in 1887, offers life and health insurance, group benefits, reinsurance and other products in Canada, the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region, administering assets of 77.8 billion Canadian dollars (US$53.7 billion).

Credit Suisse First Boston has been adviser for demutualizations and restructurings in the United States, Britain and Australia, Mr. Guloien said.

Merrill Lynch has worked in those nations as well as Canada, he added. Scotia Capital Markets was global coordinator on the two largest equity offerings in Canadian history.