John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund Renews Its Share Repurchase Plan and Amends Investment Objective and Policies

Dec 07, 2010, 17:51 ET from John Hancock Funds

BOSTON, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund (NYSE: BTO) (the "Fund"), a closed-end fund managed by John Hancock Advisers, LLC, announced today that its Board of Trustees, in evaluating strategic options to enhance shareholder value, has renewed the Fund's share repurchase plan that is set to expire on December 31, 2010.  The Fund's Board of Trustees also approved amendments to the Fund's investment objective and related investment policies to provide the Fund additional flexibility to invest in income generating securities.

Renewal of Share Repurchase Plan

The share repurchase plan seeks to enhance shareholder value and to potentially narrow the Fund's discount to NAV.  Pursuant to the plan, the Fund may purchase, in the open market, up to an additional 10% of its outstanding common shares between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 (based on common shares outstanding as of December 31, 2010).  The share repurchase plan allows the Fund to acquire its own shares in the open market at a discount to NAV, which is intended to increase the NAV per share. It could also have the benefit of providing additional liquidity in the trading of common shares.

The Fund has been actively repurchasing shares in 2010 to seek to enhance shareholder value, and year-to-date through November 30, 2010 the Fund has repurchased 941,650 shares, or 4.46% of total outstanding shares. During this period, the share repurchases have contributed to the Fund's NAV by approximately $0.10 per share.

There is no assurance that the Fund will purchase shares at any specific discount levels or in any specific amounts. The Fund's repurchase activity will be disclosed in its shareholder report for the relevant fiscal period. There is no assurance that the market price of the Fund's shares, either absolutely or relative to net asset value, will increase as a result of any share repurchases, or that the plan will enhance shareholder value over the long-term.

Amendment to Investment Objective and Related Investment Policies

Additionally, Board of Trustees has approved an amendment to the Fund's investment objective and related investment policies with respect to investments in income generating securities.  The Fund's new investment objective is to provide a high level of total return consisting of long-term capital appreciation and current income.  The prior investment objective was long-term capital appreciation.  This revision to the Fund's investment objective will provide additional flexibility to the portfolio management team to invest in income generating securities.  The Fund's related investment policies also are being changed to align the Fund's investment policies with the newly stated investment objective.  These policies as well as other investment policy changes adopted by the Board are summarized below.

Prior Investment Policies

New Investment Policies

Under normal market conditions, the Fund may invest up to 25% of its total assets in the equity securities of financial services companies, companies with significant lending operations, foreign banking, lending and financial services companies, "money center" banks and debt securities issued by U.S. regional banks, thrifts or their holding companies selected primarily for capital appreciation potential.

Under normal market conditions, the Fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets in the equity securities of financial services companies, companies with significant lending operations, foreign banking, lending and financial services companies, "money center" banks and debt securities issued by U.S. regional banks, thrifts or their holding companies.

The equity securities in which the Fund may invest are common stocks, preferred stocks, warrants, stock purchase rights, securities convertible into other equity securities. Although the Fund will purchase equity securities principally for capital appreciation, such investments may also produce dividends and other income.

The equity securities in which the Fund may invest are common stocks, preferred stocks, warrants, stock purchase rights, securities convertible into other equity securities.

The Fund intends to invest primarily in the equity securities of U.S. regional banks, thrifts and holding companies with assets of less than $30 billion and to emphasize over time investments in U.S. regional banks, thrifts and their holding companies with assets of $3 billion or less. The Adviser believes that such small to medium size banks and thrifts offer better opportunity for longer-term capital appreciation than do larger banks, thrifts and their holding companies. Over time, the Fund may change its investment emphasis in response to, among other factors, consolidations in the banking and thrift industry and the Adviser's view as to opportunities for capital appreciation.  

The Fund intends to invest in the equity securities of U.S. regional banks, thrifts and holding companies of any size.

The Fund may write and purchase call and put options on securities and securities indices provided that the value of options purchased by the Fund, together with the obligations of the Fund under options written by the Fund, other than options written or purchased for hedging purposes and call options written "against-the-box," does not exceed 5% of the Fund's total assets at the time of such purchase or writing.

The Fund may write and purchase call and put options on securities and securities indices.  The Fund typically will limit notional exposure of the options to 5% of the value of the Fund's portfolio securities, although this amount is expected to vary over time based upon U.S. equity market conditions and other factors.

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 $60.8 billion in open-end funds, closed-end funds, private accounts, retirement plans and related party assets for individual and institutional investors at September 30, 2010.

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$474 billion (US$460 billion) at September 30, 2010.

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 www.manulife.com.

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 www.johnhancock.com.

SOURCE John Hancock Funds



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