Europe

UK Insurance Firm Eyes Nigeria

Prudential Plc the United Kingdom’s biggest insurer is eyeing markets in Africa including Nigeria and Kenya for its next leg of growth after surging profits in Asia helped drive the stock to a record.
 
Bloomberg said the insurer has extended its partnership in Asia with Standard Chartered by 15 years and plans to expand the venture to more Asian and African nations.
 
The company posted a 17 per cent increase in 2013 operating profit and boosted its dividend 15 per cent, beating analysts’ estimates.
 
Africa is “a country story, a city-by-city story,” the Chief Executive Officer, Tidjane Thiam, a 51-year-old Ivory Coast native, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London.
 
It’s “like Asia in the 1990s. We rode Asia in a wave of urbanization, and the same forces are at play in Africa.”
 
Prudential is looking to Africa to capitalise on rapid economic growth and a rising middle class. It bought Ghana’s Express Life Co. for an undisclosed sum in December, marking its entry into the region’s life-insurance market.
 
Even so, Thiam still sees Asia as at the “heart of future prospects” after the company reached its final 2010 target to double profit in the region by 2013.
 
Prudential, which gets about half its revenue from Asia, said new business profit in the region climbed to 1.46 billion pounds and operating profit rose to 1.08 billion pounds, more than double 2009 levels. In the Asian market, the “pie grows faster than our ability to eat it,” Thiam said.

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