* Eyes 15 pct annual pretax opg profit growth to 2017 in
* Asia underlying free surplus cash target 900 mln stg to
1.1 bln stg
* Shore Capital calls the targets "aggressive"
By Chris Vellacott
LONDON, Dec 10 British life insurance group
Prudential laid out an "aggressive" growth plan on
Tuesday, targeting at least 10 billion pounds of cumulative cash
generation by the end of 2017 driven primarily by demand from
Asia's wealthy middle classes.
In a statement ahead of presentations to investors in London
on Tuesday, Prudential said it expected 15 percent annual pretax
IFRS operating profit growth up to 2017 in its Asian life and
asset management business.
The group said it was aiming for underlying free surplus
cash generation in Asia of 900 million pounds to 1.1 billion
pounds in 2017, compared with 484 million pounds in 2012.
"Our exposure to fast-growing sweet-spot markets, increasing
demand for savings and protection products from a rapidly
emerging and increasingly wealthy middle class, and our track
record of execution underpin our two new 2017 objectives in
Asia," Group Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said.
Insurance industry specialist Eamonn Flanagan at Shore
Capital Stockbrokers said the targets "on first viewing, appear
pretty stretching and aggressive" but added: "To us, they are a
sign of the drive and determination of the group's management to
deliver real value for shareholders."
The insurer's targeted 10 billion pounds of cash generation
over the next four years equals a third of its overall worth on
the basis of current share prices, Thiam noted.
The new goals come as the group approaches growth targets
set in 2010 following a failed bid to buy Asian rival AIA.
Thiam said Prudential was on track to achieve the last of
five objectives - doubling Asian new business profits by 2013 -
in spite of disruption caused by the financial crisis.
He also said that beyond 2017, the group would seek
investments in new markets that can emulate Asian
characteristics such as young populations and an expanding
middle class but are as yet untapped by the industry.
Thiam said the group was exploring the possibility of
setting up in Saudi Arabia and had already made initial
investments in Cambodia, Myanmar, Poland and Ghana.
"Our overall scale and the core skills we have developed in
Asia enable us to develop new markets at low opportunity cost,"