UK's Prudential profits up on Asia growth

LONDON Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:32am EST

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LONDON Nov 14 (Reuters) - Prudential, Britain's no. 1 insurer, reported a 13 percent rise in profit, narrowly beating market expectations, thanks to continued strong growth in its flagship Asian markets.

Prudential made a new business profit of 1.74 billion pounds ($2.77 billion) in the first nine months of the year, it said on Wednesday, surpassing the 1.68 billion pounds expected by analysts in a company poll.

Profit in Asia, where Prudential makes nearly half its sales, was up 15 percent, against increases of 10 percent and 17 percent in the United States and Britain respectively.

Prudential is focused on further expanding its presence in Asia as rapid economic growth across the region fuels booming demand for savings and insurance products.

The company has sworn off big acquisitions since a failed $35.5 billion attempt in 2010 to buy AIA, its biggest Asian rival, but remains on the lookout for small-scale deals.

Earlier this month, it agreed to pay $590 million for the insurance arm of Thailand's Thanachart Bank.

Prudential shares were down 0.6 percent by 0824 GMT, in line with the broader FTSE 100 share index. The stock is still up 34 percent since the start of the year, outpacing a 24 percent rise for the STOXX 600 European insurance share index

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