Pru on prowl for Asia takeovers, hints Mike Wells


Click to follow

The new chief executive of Prudential has hinted that Britain’s largest insurance company is on the lookout for takeovers across its landmark Asian business.

Mike Wells, who replaced Tidjane Thiam as chief executive in June, said the group would consider “inorganic activity” across the region, where it now makes a large chunk of its profits.

The FTSE 100 giant saw operating profits rise 17 per cent to £1.88bn during the six months to 30 June, beating City analysts’ expectations.  New business profits were up 12 per cent to £1.2bn.

Profits at the UK’s life business rose 19 per cent to £436m while those at the Asian business were up 17 per cent to £632m. At the American division, profits increased 11 per cent to £834m.

Reflecting on economic uncertainty in China, where the company has a joint venture, Mr Wells said: “We like China a lot. It remains an important area with a large growing population and  an underpenetrated insurance market.” 

He added: “I have visited all of our major business operations, which has confirmed to me that our strategy is the right one.”

The Pru’s Asia chief, Tony Wilkey, said recent stock market volatility in China had not affected the business.

Analysts welcomed the results. “All of the key financial metrics were ahead of both our and the market’s expectations, highlighting the strength of Pru’s positioning across the main financial markets in the US, UK and Asia,” said Eamonn Flanagan, an analyst at Shore Capital. But Keith Bowman of Hargreaves Lansdown warned that currency fluctuations “remain a hurdle”.

The Prudential’s shares rose 70.5p to 1,577p.