August 10, 2016 / 9:15 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Prudential considers shifting funds to Dublin, Luxembourg

* Brexit impact not major, could hit UK, M&G businesses

* May consider acquisitions in U.S., Africa

* H1 operating profit up 6 pct, beats expectations (Recasts with CEO, M&G comments on Brexit, adds M&A comment, analyst, updates shares)

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Insurer Prudential could shift more funds from its asset management business to Dublin or Luxembourg to maintain access to the European Union’s single market after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc, its asset management boss said on Wednesday.

Prudential, like other British insurers, has experienced volatility in its share price from the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote at the end of June. But the life insurer is concentrating its growth efforts on Asia, which contributes around a third of its operating profit.

“At the group level, the immediate impact of Brexit will not be material,” chief executive Mike Wells told reporters on a conference call.

“Asia has been and will continue to be the growth engine of this group.”

But Prudential said in a statement accompanying its first-half results that its UK-domiciled operations, including fund management division M&G, could be hit by Brexit.

M&G chief executive Anne Richards told reporters the company could increase the number of its funds domiciled in Dublin and Luxembourg, depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

“What we are trying to do is...give ourselves options so we are in a position to react and adapt.”

M&G said shortly after the Brexit vote that it was looking at expanding its operations in Dublin.

Under current rules, asset managers need an EU base to sell investment funds to continental European retail investors but it is not clear how this will work post-Brexit.

Wells said Prudential could look to buy firms in the United States and Africa, after completing a purchase in Zambia, marking its entry into a fourth African market.

The company reported a forecast-beating six percent rise in first-half operating profit to 2.06 billion pounds ($2.69 billion) earlier on Wednesday, led by Asian growth.

Analysts had expected group operating profit of 1.88 billion pounds, according to a consensus forecast compiled by the company.

Progress in Asia helped to offset lower profit from M&G.

Operating profits in Asia rose 15 percent to 743 million pounds. M&G’s operating profit fell 10 percent to 225 million pounds, and Prudential said M&G continued to experience “significant net outflows” in the first half.

Prudential’s shares rose 1.5 percent to 1,412 pence by 1042 GMT, making it one of the top gainers in the FTSE 100 index . They earlier touched a 3-1/2-month high.

Barrie Cornes analyst at Panmure described the results as “excellent”, reiterating his “buy” recommendation on the stock. He raised his target price for Prudential to 1610 pence a share from 1545 pence.

Prudential said it increased its interim dividend by 5 percent from a year earlier, to 12.93 pence per share. ($1 = 0.7663 pounds) (Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain; editing by Keith Weir and Jane Merriman)

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