Asia boost for Pru

Prudential's Asian division has become the biggest contributor to group profits for the first time, the insurer said yesterday, bolstering its case for a move overseas.

The giant insurer – it has a market cap of £19bn – has been threatening to move its headquarters from London to Hong Kong, citing onerous Solvency II legislation from Europe. Politicians, including Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, have reacted with alarm to the suggestion.

Yesterday, Prudential said Asia is "at the heart" of its growth strategy. Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive, said: "Asia offers some of the most attractive opportunities within the global insurance market and the potential for long-term, profitable growth for Prudential in the region is clear." The Asian life assurance business contributed £709m to group operating profits of £2.07bn.

The focus on Asia may reignite speculation that the company will look to sell its UK business.

The dividend is up 5.6 per cent to 25.19p a share.