Prudential sees Asian dream produce profits

BRITAIN’S biggest insurer may have decided against moving its headquarters to Asia but yesterday the Prudential said the continent now generates more cash than any other part of its business.

Chief executive Tidjane Thiam insisted other insurers were missing out on the exploding demand for insurance in developing markets, as year-end profits grew by a quarter to £2.5bn.

“China is expected to grow between five per cent and 10 per cent. So it is probably more sensible to invest in Europe right now,” he deadpanned.

Three years ago the Pru failed in its bid for the Asian business of AIA, only to respond by setting the ambitious target of growing the cash generated by its ongoing Asian businesses from £40m to £300m by the end of 2013.

Yesterday’s annual results show it smashed this target twelve months ahead of schedule, with the group seeing a cash remittance of £341m from Asia in 2012.

The company rewarded investors by for this success by unveiling a 15.9 per cent rise in the final dividend.

Thiam also played down the prospect of the Pru being split into separate companies in the immediate future: “The current strategy is working very well as evidenced by today’s results, and it’s a very high benchmark when you think about exercising any of these options.”