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Sun Life and Eckler Ltd. announce $176 million annuity deal with Corby Spirit and Wine Limited, and Hiram Walker & Sons Limited

Largest Canadian de-risking transaction during initial months of COVID-19

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2020 /CNW/ - Amidst volatile markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sun Life, in consultation with Eckler Ltd., secured a $176 million annuity buy-in – the largest Canadian de-risking transaction in the first half of 2020. The deal is with Corby Spirit and Wine Limited ("Corby") and Hiram Walker & Sons Limited ("Hiram Walker"), manufacturers and marketers of spirits and wines. Hiram Walker, Corby's majority shareholder, is a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary of international spirits and wine company Pernod Ricard S.A., which is headquartered in Paris, France.

While some plan sponsors have put de-risking plans on the back burner due to market conditions and governance hurdles, Corby and Hiram Walker saw an opportunity. Sun Life's strong risk management culture and innovative capabilities helped secure this transaction. This deal highlights a continuing trend in the Canadian market, as plan sponsors seek better risk management solutions so they can focus on their core business.

"A deal of this size and scale during a global pandemic demonstrates our competitive approach and ability to provide long-term protection for retirees," says Brent Simmons, Head of Defined Benefit Solutions at Sun Life. "Despite a volatile market, we planned strategically, working alongside Eckler, and were able to produce a great outcome for Corby and Hiram Walker."

"Our people, both current and retired, remain a top priority for us and this deal helps provide financial security for our retirees and beneficiaries," said Melissa James, Vice President, Total Rewards & Organizational Effectiveness, Pernod Ricard North America. "We were impressed with Eckler's guidance, as well as the partnership with Sun Life. During a time that has provided so much uncertainty, we were pleased that Sun Life and Eckler were able to provide us with some level of certainty and stability for our retirees."

Actuarial consulting firm, Eckler worked closely with Sun Life to advise Corby and Hiram Walker on the development of the de-risking plan. "We are delighted to bring Sun Life, Corby and Hiram Walker together to complete this milestone transaction. With it, Corby and Hiram Walker meet key business objectives, while protecting their pensioners' benefits," said Daniella Vega, Principal, Eckler Ltd. "It gives real meaning to Eckler's purpose to work together to help create a secure future for Canadians."

The deal covers 750 retirees and beneficiaries within Canada. There will be no change for members, who will continue to be paid from the plan as before the transaction. The deal closed on May 20, 2020.

About Sun Life
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2020, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1,186 billion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Sun Life's Defined Benefit Solutions is a team of experienced pension and investment professionals, whose mandate is to help Canadian companies manage the risks of their defined benefit pension plans. The team works closely with plan sponsors, consultants and other industry experts to deliver innovative and customized solutions.

About Corby
Corby Spirit and Wine Limited is a leading Canadian manufacturer, marketer and distributor of spirits and imported wines. Corby's portfolio of owned-brands includes some of the most renowned brands in Canada, including J.P. Wiser's®, Lot 40®, and Pike Creek® Canadian whiskies, Lamb's® rum, Polar Ice® vodka and McGuinness® liqueurs, as well as Ungava® gin, Cabot Trail® maple-based liqueurs and Chic Choc® spiced rum, and Foreign Affair® wines. Through its affiliation with Pernod Ricard S.A., a global leader in the spirits and wine industry, Corby also represents leading international brands such as ABSOLUT® vodka, Chivas Regal®, The Glenlivet® and Ballantine's® Scotch whiskies, Jameson® Irish whiskey, Beefeater® gin, Malibu® rum, Kahlúa® liqueur, Mumm® champagne, and Jacob's Creek®, Wyndham Estate®, Stoneleigh®, Campo Viejo®, and Kenwood® wines. Corby is a publicly traded company based in Toronto, Ontario, and is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbols CSW.A and CSW.B.  For further information, please visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn.

About Hiram Walker & Sons Limited

Established over 160 years ago, Hiram Walker & Sons Limited's tradition of blending quality ingredients, processes and highly skilled people continues at the Windsor, Ontario based production facility. Hiram Walker produces brands such as J.P. Wiser's, Lot No. 40, Pike Creek, Gooderham & Worts® and Royal Reserve® Canadian whiskies, Polar Ice vodka, Malibu® and Lamb's rums, and McGuinness liqueurs for Canadian distribution by its affiliate, Corby Spirit and Wine Limited. Hiram Walker & Sons Limited is a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard S.A.

About Eckler Ltd.

Eckler is Canada's largest independent actuarial consulting firm. Based in Canada and the Caribbean, we're a team of committed and highly skilled professionals in the areas of pension, retirement, financial wellness, investment, group benefits, change management and communication, along with insurance and technology consulting. Owned and operated by active Principals, the company has earned a reputation for service continuity and high professional standards. Eckler is a founding member of Abelica Global – an international alliance of independent actuarial and consulting firms operating in over 20 countries. Visit eckler.ca to learn more.

Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars except as otherwise noted.

Media Relations Contacts:                                                                             
Laura Torchia
Manager, Corporate Communications
T. 416-540-5918
laura.torchia@sunlife.com

Nancy Lee Martin
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager
T. 416-696-4086
nlmartin@eckler.ca 

Valerie Brive-Turtle
Director, Communications, PR & SR
T. 416-479-2492 
Valerie.brive-turtle@pernod-ricard.com

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.

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