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Asia takes Prudential to forecast-beating 9 percent profit rise

Asia takes Prudential to forecast-beating 9 percent profit rise
FILE PHOTO: The company logo of Prudential is seen at its headquarters in Hong Kong March 9, 2010. REUTERS/Bobby Yip /File Photo   -   Copyright  Bobby Yip(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) – British life insurer Prudential <PRU.L> on Wednesday reported a stronger than expected 9 percent rise in first-half operating profit to 2.4 billion pounds ($3.10 billion), boosted by its Asian business.

Britain’s largest listed insurer is focusing heavily on Asia, where its business is bigger in terms of operating profit than the United States and Britain. Prudential also has activities in Africa and continental Europe.

“The group’s performance has again been led by Asia,” Chief Executive Mike Wells said, adding that the company benefited from “the growing customer demand in Asia for the wealth and health products and services that we provide.”

Prudential is planning to demerge M&G Prudential, its UK and Europe life insurance and asset management business, into a separate business with a London listing..

Prudential said the planned demerger was progressing well.

Asia new business profit rose 11 percent and operating profit gained 14 percent on a constant currency basis, Prudential said.

Asia’s operating profit rise was 7 percent on an actual exchange rate basis, while operating profit at the company’s U.S. business fell 7 percent on an actual exchange rate basis. Operating profit in the UK and Europe rose 4 percent.

Group operating profit was forecast at 2.25 billion pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus.

Prudential said it would pay an interim dividend of 15.67 pence per share, in line with a forecast 15.66.

Prudential shares were up 0.4 percent at 17.65 pounds per share at 0904 GMT, in line with the FTSE 100 index <.FTSE>.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Emma Rumney, editing by Huw Jones and Jane Merriman)

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