Man behind Pru break-up plot unmasked

PATRICE Collette, an investment manager with US-based Capital Research and Management, has emerged as the man at the centre of a plot to break up insurer Prudential.

City A.M. understands Collette, who works from Geneva, is the fund boss at Capital Research who held talks with third parties including life company Aviva with a view to splitting off Prudential’s UK and US operations.

Reports suggested Capital Research, Prudential’s largest shareholder at 12.4 per cent, was displeased at plans for a record $21bn (£13.7bn) capital raising and $35.5bn takeover of AIA in Asia.

However as Capital Research runs around 30 mutual funds, several of which invest in Prudential, it is understood any view would belong to the individual fund manager rather than the house.

Shareholders yesterday said talk of an attempt to de-rail Prudential’s bid for AIA reflected the frustration felt by investors over the hefty price tag chief executive Tidjane Thiam is paying for the assets.

One said: “There is still a lot of uncertainty. Prudential has a lot of work to do.” The prospectus for Prudential’s rights issue is due on 5 May.