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Insurers’ woes grow

A billion-dollar writedown here, $3 billion there, and before long Canada’s big­gest insuran­ce companies reported big losses Thursday, battered by the slump­ing North American  stock market and econ­omy as well as the Wall Street financial crunch.

A billion-dollar writedown here, $3 billion there, and before long Canada’s big­gest insuran­ce companies reported big losses Thursday, battered by the slump­ing North American stock market and econ­omy as well as the Wall Street financial crunch.

Manulife Financial, Great-West Lifeco and Sun Life Financial all insisted that their insurance operations are robust and their overall financial positions are solid. But the catastrophe on global stock markets caused massive setbacks for the three largest insurers.

Toronto-based Manulife lost $1.87 billion in the fourth quarter, its first loss since becoming a publicly traded company in 1999.

At No. 2 Great-West, the fourth-quarter loss was $907 million.

Toronto-based Sun Life Financial reported a fourth-quarter profit of $129 million, down 77 per cent from a year earlier — but it would have lost $696 million except for an $825-million gain on the sale of its 37 per cent interest in CI Financial to Scotiabank.

 
 
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