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John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund Declares Quarterly Managed Distribution

2nd March, 2007

John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund (NYSE: BTO) declared its quarterly distribution pursuant to the fund's 10% managed distribution policy today as follows:

The plan offers investors an attractive level of distributions by making quarterly payments of at least 2.5% of the fund's net asset value as of the preceding calendar year-end, or at least 10% annually. To maximize tax efficiency of distributions paid by the fund, it is anticipated that the majority of each distribution will come from net long-term capital gains which for individual investors may qualify for U.S. federal income taxation at a maximum rate of 15%. A portion of the distribution may also come from ordinary income, net short-term gains, and if necessary, a return of capital. Because net assets of the fund will vary following each year-end, the quarterly distribution may represent more or less than 2.5 percent of the fund's net assets at the time of distribution. Also, if the distributions under the plan are less than the amount the fund is required to distribute under the Internal Revenue Code, the fund will distribute more than required under the plan. The fund's board of trustees will periodically review the plan to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing the fund's discount to net asset value.

Based on the December 31, 2006 Year-End Net Asset Value of $900,210,222 and 84,400,000 shares outstanding, the fund will pay at least $0.26665 per share/per quarter or $1.0666 per share/annually.

As of the fund's most recent reporting period ended October 31, 2006, BTO had over $892 million in net assets of which 55% was net unrealized appreciation of investments. For individual taxable accounts, long-term capital gains are subject to at a maximum Federal tax rate of 15%. For the 1- year period ending January 31, 2007, BTO posted an average annual total return at net asset value of 12.42%; 3-year, 10.64%; 5-year, 13.16% and 10-year, 12.29%.

John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund is a diversified, closed-end fund. The Fund seeks long-term capital appreciation by normally investing at least 80% of its assets in equity securities of U.S. regional banks and thrifts and holding companies that primarily own or receive a substantial portion of their income from regional banks or thrifts.

John Hancock Funds, the mutual fund business unit of John Hancock Financial Services, offers a broad array of investment products, including open-end and closed-end funds, privately managed accounts, 529 plans and retirement accounts to retail and institutional investors. As of December 31, 2006, investors entrusted John Hancock Funds with $54.4 billion in assets. Additional information about John Hancock Funds can be found on the website.

About Manulife Financial and John Hancock

John Hancock is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 19 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$414 billion (US$355 billion) as at December 31, 2006. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '0945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at site.

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, fixed and variable annuities, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance.

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