Pru may move to Hong Kong to escape capital rules

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The Independent Online

Prudential, Britain's biggest insurer, is considering plans to move its headquarters from London to Hong Kong to escape tough new capital rules from European regulators.

Tidjane Thiam, chief executive, is said to have asked executives to review the options for a move due to fears that planned European regulations demanding insurers increase their capital requirements could force the Pru to hold billions of extra pounds in reserve.

Solvency II rules, due to come in next year, are set to force European insurers to hold extra cash against divisions operating in countries with less exacting capital standards. That could significantly increase the reserves the Pru would be forced to hold against its US business, Jackson Life. But if the insurer which was founded in London 163 years ago instead moved its headquarters to Hong Kong, only the British part of its business would be subject to Solvency II rules.

EU regulators have not yet decided whether American capital rules for insurers are compatible, but Mr Thiam has already voiced heavy criticism of the plans. Pru declined to comment.