There’s no denying that management put in a commendable performance in the first half, an impressive feat considering the bid distractions. Unsurprisingly, Asia is the star of the show. There, new business sales totalled some £713m, a 36 per cent hike on the same period a year ago. All regions excluding Korea (which has implemented a “value over volume” strategy) reported double digit growth rates, offering an average initial rate of return in excess of 20 per cent within three years. In the UK, it is a different story, with new business up just two per cent; in truth, the British ops are little more than a tired cash cow.
Investors should be rating these results more highly, but the truth is Tidjane Thiam is looking like a man who had one big idea: bold expansion in Asia by acquisition. With the former strategy in place, the Pru should find a team more suited to the softly-as-she goes organic approach. A new chairman would be best-placed to start the search.