U.S. Markets

M&G plans savings push into Europe as first-half profit tops forecast

LONDON (Reuters) - M&G MNG.L is planning to launch its flagship Prufund retail savings product in mainland Europe by year-end, it said on Wednesday, as the British insurer and asset manager reported above forecast first-half profit.

M&G, which was spun out by parent Prudential PRU.L last year, has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with two banks in Europe to distribute Prufund, Chief Executive John Foley told Reuters. He declined to name the banks, citing confidentiality agreements.

The 136 billion pound ($177.4 billion) Prufund, which pools long-term investments, saw net inflows of 800 million pounds in the six months to end-June.

Overall net outflows from savings and asset management totaled 4.1 billion pounds, however, as retail investors pulled money out during the coronavirus-led market sell-off.

“The pandemic was obviously unhelpful, people ran for cash,” Foley said, adding that going forward: “The basic drivers don’t change, people still need to save for their retirement.”

Assets under management and administration totaled 339 billion pounds at end-June, above 329 billion seen in a company-supplied consensus poll.

Adjusted operating profit fell 57% to 309 million pounds, slightly ahead of the 299 million pounds forecast. Extra costs related to the demerger contributed to the fall in profit, M&G said.

The pandemic has hit insurers and asset managers across the board.

Asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen SLA.L last week recorded a 30% drop in pre-tax profit, while life insurer Legal & General LGEN.L posted a 2% fall in first-half operating profit.

M&G's shares were up 2% at 178 pence at 0716 GMT, one of the strongest performers in the FTSE 100 .FTSE. JPMorgan analysts described the results as "solid", reiterating their "overweight" rating.

M&G said it would pay an interim dividend of six pence per share, in line with forecasts.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise and Emelia Sithole-Matarise