Prudential boss Mike Wells thinks people are still a bit confused about Asia

Hayley Kirton
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Wells feels people still have problems reading Asia (Source: Getty)

The man at the driving seat of one of the most notable insurance giants has today said he believes many are still struggling to get their head around the Asian market.

In a conference call to discuss his company's half-year results, Prudential chief executive Mike Wells pointed out there were still many misconceptions about the geographic region, mainly that businesses could apply a one sizes fits all approach.

"Asia is not a country," Wells stressed, adding: "there's quite a diversity of countries".

Wells also noted he doesn't "buy these top line, simplistic looks at the economy", adding it often didn't feel true once you are on the ground.

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Prudential's bottom line received a nice bump from its Asian efforts in its interim results. While overall operating profits for the company increased by nine per cent on a reported basis to £2.1bn, operating profits in Asia grew by 18 per cent to £743m.

Wells, who took over from Tidjane Thiam as chief executive of Prudential last year, remarked that one generalisation that could be said to be true of Asia was that the savings and retirement market was still young and his company was often the first on the scene.

"We are not competing with a previous relationship," Wells said. "What we are doing is solving that problem for the first time [for customers]."

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That's not to say Wells has no interest in what the UK has to offer. "We like where we are investing and we like the geographic footprint of the group," he said.

On the conference call, the insurer discussed the possibility it may shift some funds in M&G, its assets management division, to Dublin or Luxembourg as the UK departs from the EU. However, it was also made clear that any decision was currently in its early stages.

Back in March, Wells told CNBC he felt "China and Asia in general are misread by the West".

Shares in Prudential are currently trading up two per cent at 1,420p.

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"Prudential's Asian business has been a spectacular success story in the last twenty years, and now accounts for over a third of group profits," said Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, of today's results. "The economic slowdown in South East Asia earlier this year had little impact, which speaks volumes of the quality of the Pru's Asian franchise."