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Manulife Financial Corp. has stepped heavily into Toronto's office market, investing $82.2-million to buy a 12-story building in the city's financial district.

The building, at the corner of King St. and University Ave., is fully leased and was owned by a European family. It's the insurer's second big bet on real estate this year - in September it bought a 770,000-square-foot office complex in San Francisco.

After a strong start to the year, commercial real estate investment activity slowed through the fall as sellers insisted on high prices and buyers held out for bargains. Manulife said it wants to build its real estate portfolio, and was attracted to Toronto because that's where it's headquartered.

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"Manulife has a long-standing presence in Toronto and it's a market we know well," said Kevin Adolphe, chief operating officer of Manulife's investment division.

"We are optimistic about the possibilities in Toronto and other key markets as we continue to look for core office and industrial property investments across Canada, the United States and Asia."

The building was built in 1959, but renovated in 1996.

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