News - Investment
Prudential has posted a 41% jump in operating profit to £968m in the first half, well ahead of expectations.
Despite incurring a £377m pre-tax hit as a result of the aborted AIA takeover, the group was also able to increase its interim dividend by 5% to 6.61p per share
In the UK, Pru's IFRS operating profit was in line with last year at £330m. Profits from the with-profits business were £7m higher at £154m.
M&G, the group's asset management arm, saw a 40% jump in operating profit to £143m.
Profit from UK general insurance commission decreased by £4m to £23m in 2010, in line with the decline in the in-force policy numbers as the business matures.
The group's UK APE sales were £382m, up 2% on the same period last year, while new business profit increased by 11% to £135m.
Pru UK posted total individual annuity sales of £112m, 2% lower than the first half of 2009. With-profits sales for the half-year were 22% of total annuity sales, compared with 14% for the corresponding period last year. It attributes the rise to the success of its Income Choice Annuity, launched in March 2009.
Onshore bond sales of £69m were down 9%, including with-profits bond sales of £60m, which was 15% down on the first half of 2009. PruFund made up 77% of total with-profits bonds.
Unit-linked bond sales at £9m were £4m above the first half of 2009, helped by the launch of Pru Dynamic funds in January 2010.
Individual pension sales of £41m, including income drawdown, were 12% up on the first half of 2009. Sales of the Flexible Retirement Plan, Prudential UK's individual pension product with customer-agreed remuneration, grew by 20% to £12m.
Sales have been helped by PruFund Cautious, launched in the fourth quarter of 2009, and the new Pru Dynamic portfolio funds launched in January 2010, which together made up 29% of individual pension sales.
Income drawdown product sales of £7m were up 41% on the same period last year, while PruProtect sales at went from £5m to £11m.
Prudential CEO Tidjane Thiam stressed the UK was a "valuable part of the group's heritage and history" although he acknowledged it had lower potential for growth than other markets such as Asia.
After the failed AIA deal, he said the group would now be focused on organic growth across its markets although the insurer's strategy is always under review. Other options, such as a break-up of parts of the group, would always be looked at in terms of the risk/reward compared to the benchmark of Prudential's current strong performance.
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