Pru hires City fixer as profit eases tension

PRUDENTIAL has hired a troubleshooter to help repair its tattered relations with City investors after the collapse of its $35.5bn (£22bn) attempt to buy AIG’s Asian arm.

After a wave of criticism over its handling of shareholders, the FTSE 100 titan has poached insurance industry veteran Steve Riley from Clive Cowdery’s Resolution business. Riley started at Prudential this week with the special remit of liaising with fund managers and sell-side analysts.

Institutional investors repeatedly blasted Prudential and boss Tidjane Thiam for “shambolic” communication during the aborted bid. Finance director Nic Nicandrou said Riley would be an important go-between for the company and its holders.

“One of the lessons we’ve learned is, while we felt we were having a good dialogue with investors, it was clear there was more we could have done in that regard,” he told City A.M.

But some shareholders were critical. The head of equities at a funds house said: “It doesn’t really wash. It might help around the edges but it will take a lot more than that to rebuild confidence.”

The news came as Prudential smashed forecasts with first-half operating profits boosted 41 per cent by soaring Asian performance to £968m. Group sales rose 28 per cent to £1.7bn. Prudential upped its dividend five per cent to 6.6p per share.