Thiam says UK is still key as he eyes move to eastern markets

THE headquarters of Prudential will stay in the UK, although the new holding company used to buy American International Assurance will be dual-listed in London and Hong Kong.

Chief executive Tidjane Thiam said the UK remained “key” to the insurance titan’s strategy. More mature western markets – primarily the UK and the US – are expected to serve as resource feeders to the quicker-growing Far East, where Thiam wants to reap 80 per cent of the group’s new business profits by 2015.

He told reporters on a conference call yesterday: “London is our historic home. We have our old building in Holborn and we are British by identity. In terms of time zones it makes sense to be here.”

However, Prudential confirmed it had already hedged its $20bn (£13.3bn) rights issue against a potential slide in sterling.

The company moved early to protect its downside as one bearish analyst predicted a collapse in the pound to $1.20 by early summer, which would have cost Prudential an extra £3.3bn for its May cash call.

Thiam added the firm would not sell any UK operations imminently.