John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund Announces Amendment To Managed Distribution Plan And Declares Increased Quarterly Distribution

Aug 13, 2012, 16:35 ET from John Hancock Funds

BOSTON, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund (NYSE: BTO) (the "Fund"), a closed-end fund managed by John Hancock Advisers, LLC (the "Adviser"), and subadvised by John Hancock Asset Management a division of Manulife Asset Management  (U.S.), LLC, announced today that its Board of Trustees voted to amend its current managed distribution plan (the "Plan"), increasing the annual distribution rate by 30%, from 5.00% of the Fund's net asset value ("NAV") to 6.50% of the Fund's NAV. 

Under the amended Plan, the Fund will distribute each quarter a fixed dollar amount per share rather than a fixed percentage of NAV. The Fund will make quarterly distributions of an amount equal to $0.2961 per share, based upon an annual distribution rate of 6.50% of the Fund's NAV of $18.22 on July 31, 2012 (representing a quarterly distribution rate of 1.625% of the Fund's July 31, 2012 NAV). This amount will be paid quarterly until further notice.

Pursuant to its amended Plan, the Fund declared its quarterly distribution today as follows:

Declaration Date: August 13, 2012 Ex-Dividend Date: September 12, 2012 Record Date: September 14, 2012 Payment Date: September 28, 2012 Distribution Amount Per Share: $0.2961

So far this year, data suggesting a slight recovery in the U.S. economy coupled with improving company fundamentals, has led to positive returns in equity markets.  The Portfolio Management team is encouraged by these trends and sees good opportunities across the financial sector.  A number of factors contribute to this optimistic outlook, among them are a pick-up in loan growth, an upturn in merger activity, increased consumer spending and better access to financing.  If these trends persist and the equity markets continue to improve, then valuations in financial shares may continue to move towards historic levels, which may result in increased gains to help support the Plan over the long-term.

The Adviser believes that the amended Plan may enhance shareholder value and potentially decrease the discount between the market price and the NAV of the Fund's common shares.

The Fund may also make additional distributions (i) for purposes of avoiding federal income tax on the Fund of investment company taxable income and net capital gain, if any, not included in such regular distributions and (ii) for purposes of avoiding federal excise tax of ordinary income and capital gain net income, if any, not included in such regular quarterly distributions.

Distributions under the Plan may consist of net investment income, net realized long-term capital gains, net realized short-term capital gains and, to the extent necessary, return of capital. The Plan intends to fund each distribution, to the extent appropriate, in a tax-advantaged manner through the realization of long-term capital gains where the distribution amount exceeds net investment income. The Fund will seek to realize capital gains for this purpose in a manner which the Adviser and Subadviser believe is consistent with prudent portfolio management and the investment objective, policies and guidelines of the Fund.

The views of the investment team reflect its own opinions and they are in no way guarantees of future events, and are not intended to be used as an investment advice or a recommendation regarding any specific security. They are also subject to change at any time as market and other conditions warrant.

Statements in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined by the United States securities laws. You should exercise caution in interpreting and relying on forward-looking statements because they are subject to uncertainties and other factors which are, in some cases, beyond the Fund's control and could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

About John Hancock Funds The Boston-based mutual fund business unit of John Hancock Financial, John Hancock Funds, manages more than $73.8 billion in open-end funds, closed-end funds, private accounts, retirement plans and related party assets for individual and institutional investors at June 30, 2012.

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 22 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and in most of Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, Manulife Financial Corporation offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$514 billion (US$504 billion) at June 30, 2012.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, fixed and variable annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at

SOURCE John Hancock Funds