(Bloomberg) -- Manulife Financial Corp., Canada’s largest life insurer, strengthened its hold on the market with a deal to acquire one of its biggest competitors while bolstering assets and returning capital to shareholders.

Manulife agreed to buy Standard Life Plc’s Canadian business, the fifth-largest life insurer in the nation, for about C$4 billion ($3.7 billion), the Toronto-based insurer said yesterday in a statement. It’s Manulife’s second-largest acquisition, after the $10.9 billion purchase of John Hancock Life InsuranceCo. in 2004.

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