Prudential to split off UK and European business after ‘rigorous review’
M&G will be headquartered in the UK led by its own chief executive John Foley.
Insurance giant Prudential has announced plans to split its UK and European unit from the rest of the business, as it thanked its Asian operations for helping drive a 6% rise in group profits for 2017.
The decision to separate M&G Prudential comes just a year after it was created through the combination of Prudential’s life and asset management operations in the UK and Europe, and follows an in-depth review by the company.
The move will create two separately-listed companies, with the remaining Prudential business comprising its Asian, US and African operations and headed by the group’s chief executive Mike Wells.
M&G, described by Prudential as one of the leading retirement and savings businesses in the UK and Europe, will be headquartered in the UK, led by its own chief executive John Foley .
Prudential said it would give the division “more control” over its business strategy and capital allocation and allow it to focus more closely on its respective geography.
The decision to demerge M&G Prudential follows a rigorous review by the board which considered all options Prudential chairman Paul Manduca
Prudential chairman Paul Manduca said: “The decision to demerge M&G Prudential follows a rigorous review by the board which considered all options, including the status quo, and concluded that it is in the best interest of the group to operate as two separately-listed companies, able to focus on their distinct strategic priorities in their chosen geographies.
“Both are expected to meet the criteria for inclusion in the FTSE 100 index”.
Prudential said it would look at ways of “realising efficiencies” across the two businesses following the split, and had already agreed to sell a £12 billion book of UK annuities to Rothesay Life.
The timing of the demerger will depend on the completion of that annuities sale, the transfer of the legal ownership of its Hong Kong insurance subsidiaries to its Asian division, as well as “prevailing market conditions”.
All of those steps would be taken in an effort to “minimise costs” linked to the demerger, though Prudential said it would provide an update in due course.
The announcement came alongside the release of Prudential’s full-year results, which showed its Asian business driving a 10% jump in operating profits to £4.7 billion on an actual exchange rate basis, up from £4.3 billion a year earlier.
Its Asian division logged a 20% rise in operating profits to just shy of £2 billion – double the growth rate of its UK and European division, which saw a 10% rise to £1.4 billion.
The US business saw 9% growth to £2.2 billion.
Group boss Mike Wells said Prudential had achieved its objectives for 2017, which included seeing its Asian business deliver a compound annual growth rate in operating profit of at least 15% between 2013 and 2017.
“I am confident that, given the extent of our opportunities and our proven ability to execute and innovate, we are well positioned to continue to grow profitably,” he said.
Prudential shares rose as much as 4.4% following the demerger announcement and release of full-year results.