The life insurer Prudential set bold new targets for its Asian operations yesterday, claiming that it planned to at least double its new business profits from the region within the next three years.
Speaking publicly for the first time since taking over as head of Prudential's Asian businesses last month, Barry Stowe told analysts that there was still a "lot of headroom for growth" in Asia.
Mr Stowe took up his new position a month ago, after his predecessor Mark Norbom was ousted unexpectedly. Although Asia has been the engine of growth for the business over the past few years, regularly delivering strong double-digit growth, group chief executive Mark Tucker - also a former head of Prudential's Asian business - is believed to have decided that the company should be growing even faster in the region.
Mr Stowe said: "Prudential has built significant presence and scale in Asia with positions in all the major markets in the region. Between 1994 and 2005 life sales grew by 24 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and funds under management by 34 per cent CAGR with strong growth continuing into 2006. We expect our life business in Asia at least to double 2005 new business profits by 2009. Asia is an exciting place to do business and as large as our business is today there is a lot of headroom for growth."
Prudential has the largest presence in Asia of all the European insurers, with a more diverse range of businesses. In the nine months to the end of September, the region once again posted the highest growth rate in the group, with sales increasing by some 29 per cent on the same period a year ago. The group says the division is on track to become cash positive this year.
Mr Stowe joined from the AIG, the world's largest insurer, where he previously headed up the AIG Life's accident and health worldwide division. In his new job for the Prudential, he is based in Hong Kong.