US and Asia retail sales buoy the Pru

INSURANCE giant Prudential yesterday reported a 10 per cent year-on-year rise in third-quarter retail sales, reflecting its focus on its profitable US and Asian operations.<br /><br />Chief executive Tidjane Thiam, in his first statement as head of the group, said that total retail sales grew to &pound;699m in the period. Retail sales for the first nine months of the year were three per cent higher at &pound;2.02bn.<br /><br />But the company&rsquo;s strict discipline on the type of wholsesale business it has written &ndash; and focus on high-yielding sales &ndash; meant that the total group sales dropped to &pound;700m in the period, nine per cent lower than last year.<br /><br />Sales at Prudential&rsquo;s US operations grew by 66 per cent in the third quarter, with sales of &pound;249m, while its Asian business saw a &ldquo;return to momentum&rdquo;, growing four per cent to &pound;293m. The UK, now the smallest slice of Prudential&rsquo;s business, saw sales drop 22 per cent, hit by the absence of a large bulk annuity transaction which lifted numbers a year ago. Prudential shifted its focus away from the UK after a strategic overhaul in 2007, limiting its appetite for capital intensive business.<br /><br />But Thiam emphasized the importance of the UK to the group, which represents about half of its earnings and is a &ldquo;reliable source of cash&rdquo;.<br /><br />M&amp;G, the Pru&rsquo;s fund management arm, experienced a 47 per cent rise in net inflows to &pound;2.6bn in the period, as demand for bond funds spiked among retail investors.<br /><br /><strong>NIC NICANDROU<br /><br />CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, <br />PRUDENTIAL</strong><br /><br />Nic Nicandrou officially took up his position as Prudential&rsquo;s chief financial officer yesterday, in time for the insurer&rsquo;s third quarter results. He will also join the Prudential&rsquo;s board of directors.<br /><br />Nicandrou joined the Pru from Aviva, where he had worked for 11 years in a number of senior roles, most recently as finance director and a board member of Norwich Union Life. Prior to that he was Aviva&rsquo;s group financial control director.<br /><br />Father of three Nicandrou started yesterday after six months gardening leave, during which he spe time enjoying his two great loves: his family and Liverpool football club.<br /><br />He started his career at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, where he worked for ten years in both London and Paris, specialising in insurance and more general financial services.<br /><br />&ldquo;Nicandrou&rsquo;s knowledge and experience of the sector mean he is well suited to help lead Prudential to the next stage of its development,&rdquo; said Prudential chief executive Tidjane Thiam. &ldquo;I greatly look forward to working with him.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;