Prudential profits gain on Asia growth

Life insurance giant Prudential has reported big increases in new business profit in the year to date and sought to reassure investors it is well insulated from the fallout from the Eurozone crisis.

Prudential raised its overall sales by 15 per cent to £2.6bn in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2010, excluding the troubled India market.

New business profit increased by 14 per cent year-on-year, to £1.6bn as the Asian businesses continued to perform strongly, growing profits 20 per cent to £729m excluding India. US new business profits in the year to date were also up 17 per cent to £622m.

But the Pru said its UK business performed “in line”, with new business profit growth of just one per cent to £194m.

And net inflows to its investment portfolio more than halved in the nine months of 2011, to £3.4bn from £7.9bn in 2010, as flows in the third quarter slumped by 75 per cent.

Chief executive Tidjane Thiam admitted that the state of anxiety in financial markets could have an effect on the business.

But he told reporters on a conference call the Pru had only £49m of exposure to peripheral Eurozone sovereign debt and only £381m of debt of Eurozone banks.

“During the third quarter of 2011 global financial markets experienced significant volatility brought on by concerns over European and US sovereign debt, as well as concerns about a general slowing of global demand,” he said in a statement.

“If sustained, this environment is likely to have a negative impact on our sector over time. However, our sizeable and unique presence in…Asia; our product, geographic and channel diversification; our risk management discipline across the group; and the strength of our balance sheet position us well to continue to outperform over the medium term.”

Prudential shares have risen 2.4 per cent to 633p.