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Monday, March 01, 2004

Fund Takes Advantage of New Tax Rules

by: Caitlin  Pickall

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act reduced the top tax rate on qualified dividend income to 15% last year. John Hancock Advisers is taking advantage of the new rules and launching its 13th closed-end fund, the John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Dividend Income Fund.

On Friday, the fund issued 38 million common shares, taking in $760 million before sales load and expenses. Total proceeds from issuance could ultimately be as much as $1.2 billion when preferred shares, amounting to about 35 percent of capital, are issued and if the underwriters’ over-allotment option is fully exercised.

Greg Phelps, head of Hancock’s financial services team and Jim Schmidt, head of the utilities and preferred securities team will co-manage the fund. They will focus in the utilities and financial services sectors and invest at least 80 percent of the fund’s assets in securities that pay dividends eligible for the new tax rates.

UBS Investment Bank was lead manager for the offering. Merrill Lynch & Co. was co-lead manager.  

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