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The Sun Life Financial building in Toronto.

MICHELLE SIU/The Globe and Mail

Sun Life Financial Inc. is welcoming a new board memeber with experience in insurance deal making, from mergers to demutualizations.

The company said M. Marianne Harris joined the board Monday. She was most recently the president of corporate and investment banking at Merrill Lynch Canada Inc.

In that role, Ms. Harris worked on a variety of deals in the financial services sector, including some major insurance transactions. She advised on two major purchases by Great-West Lifeco Inc., including the $7.3-billion merger with Canada Life, and the $1.75-billion deal for Irish Life in February.

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Ms. Harris also has a history with Sun Life. She was involved in the insurer's $6.9-billion deal for Clarica Life Insurance Co. in 2002, which dramatically increased the size and scale of Sun Life. The company began to phase out the Clarica brand (which had formerly been known as Mutual Life of Canada) in 2007, moving more than 2 million policyholders under the Sun Life umbrella.

Ms. Harris has also been involved in other bank and asset management deals, and serves as the chair of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). She also serves on IIROC's finance and audit committee.

Before her tenure at Merrill Lynch, Ms. Harris worked for RBC Dominion Securities as head of the financial institutions group.

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