BOSTON, Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Advisers, LLC ("JHA") announced today that the Boards of Trustees for three of the closed-end funds that it advises, John Hancock Preferred Income Fund III (NYSE: HPS), John Hancock Premium Dividend Fund (formerly known as John Hancock Patriot Premium Dividend Fund II) (NYSE: PDT), and John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Dividend Income Fund (NYSE: HTD) (collectively, the "Funds"), have rejected the demands contained in the demand letters addressed to each Fund related to the redemption of its auction preferred shares ("APS").
As previously announced, each demand letter alleged, on behalf of a purported common shareholder of the respective Fund, that JHA and certain of the Trustees and executive officers of the Fund breached their fiduciary duties to the Fund by redeeming APS at their liquidation preference and demanded that the Board of Trustees take action to remedy those alleged breaches.
The allegations in the demand letters were followed by derivative complaints with respect to HPS and HTD filed on August 24, 2010 and August 30, 2010, respectively, in the Superior Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk County. The complaints name JHA, JHA's parent company Manulife Financial Corporation, and certain of the interested Trustees, executive officers and portfolio managers of HPS and HTD in connection with the redemption of APS of HPS and HTD. The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages for the alleged losses and certain other relief. No derivative complaint has been filed with respect to PDT at this time.
In response to the demand letters, the Boards of Trustees established a Special Committee (the "Committee") consisting of independent Trustees to investigate the demands with the assistance of independent counsel. Based upon its investigation, the Committee recommended that the Boards of Trustees reject the demands made in the demand letters. After reviewing the findings of the Committee, at a meeting of the Boards of Trustees, all of the independent Trustees determined that the maintenance of the derivative proceedings is not in the best interests of the Funds and voted to reject the demands.
A motion to dismiss the complaints will be filed in due course.
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 Advisers