Growth in Asia helped Prudential beat forecasts for the first nine months of the year, making up for lower sales in the UK, the insurer said yesterday.
Prudential's Asian life insurance sales rose 48 per cent to £939m in the nine months to the end of September, beating the £908m full-year figure for 2006. Revamped products in Taiwan drove 90 per cent growth. A near doubling of sales agents in India helped fuel a 64 per cent jump in nine-month sales, with third-quarter business rising 95 per cent.
Prudential gets about half its sales from Asia, where business is booming thanks to rapid economic growth and an expanding middle class with a propensity to save. The rest of the company's business is split between Britain and the US.
Total group sales rose 10 per cent to £1.98bn, beating analysts' average expectation of £1.95bn.
Mark Tucker, Prudential's chief executive, said: "These new business numbers demonstrate that there is real and continued momentum across the group. Our strategy remains focused on the growing global market for retirement savings and income."
Total UK sales fell 20 per cent to £529m, mainly because two bulk annuity deals a year earlier were not repeated. Retail sales in the UK rose a steady 8 per cent.
Bear Stearns analysts said: "This is the purest European play on Asian insurance where margins and growth remain attractive. We are not overly concerned with the UK division miss, as we do not believe it is an attractive market to be growing in."