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Great-West announces new CEO for Irish Life as $1.75-billion acquisition closes

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WINNIPEG - Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSX:GWO) said Thursday it has completed the $1.75-billion acquisition of Irish Life and appointed a new chief executive for the Dublin-based company.

"The closing of this transaction marks a significant milestone for our companies in Ireland," said Paul Mahon, Great-West's president and CEO since the retirement of Allen Loney, who announced the deal in February.

Great-West is now the leading provider of life insurance, pensions and investment management in Ireland, he said.

Bill Kyle, a 34-year veteran of the Winnipeg-based insurance giant, has been chosen as the new CEO of Irish Life, which will be combined with Great-West's existing operations in Ireland and serve as its European headquarters.

Kyle has most recently been Great-West's executive vice-president for wealth management and led the integration of the company's Canadian group and individual wealth businesses.

The subscription receipts issued by Great-West Lifeco in February as part of the transaction will be automatically converted to GWO common shares. The receipts will be delisted Thursday.

Both holders of the receipts and shareholders of record as of May 31 will receive 30.75 cents in dividends for each security.

Two companies affiliated with Great-West Life — Power Financial (TSX:PWF) and IGM Financial Inc. (TSX:IGM) — said they own 709.3 million common GWO shares or about a 70.9 per cent stake.

Great-West Life acquired Irish Life, formerly part of a larger group called Irish Life & Permanent, from the Government of Ireland as part of that country's efforts to reduce its deficit.

Great-West is one of Canada's largest insurance and wealth management companies and is part of the Power Corporation (TSX:POW) group of companies, one of Canada's largest non-bank financial conglomerates.

Great-West shares have risen about 15 per cent since the Irish Life deal was announced in mid-February. They closed Wednesday at $30.48 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, up $3.97 from $26.24 on Feb. 14 before the announcement.

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