Pru mulls sale of US and UK arms

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The Independent Online

Prudential is considering selling its £10bn British and American businesses to help fund its takeover of the Asian assets of the troubled American insurance giant AIG.

The Prudential will publish a prospectus on Wednesday laying out plans for the business, with the $35.5bn (£23.2bn) AIG Asia acquisition at their centre. Selling all or part of the group's Western interests would completely commit the Prudential to the fast-growing but often volatile markets of emerging Asia. Some of the Pru's existing Indian and Chinese interests may also be disposed of for up to $5bn (£3.3bn). Detailed proposals for the British arm of the Pru and are not expected to be included in this week's announcements.

Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Prudential, has faced calls for more clarity on the potentially transformatory move. There are worries the Pru is paying too much for AIG Asia. A 75 per cent vote of approval will be required from shareholders.

The City is braced for a rights issue which will fund the bulk of the purchase. Market gossip suggests the rights to be priced at around 140p a share, a 75 per cent discount on the closing price of 602p before the deal was announced in February. Shares closed at 579.5p on Friday. Shareholders will be offered four new shares for every one they hold, making it the largest fundraising in British corporate history.

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