Prudential hikes dividend, profit jumps 22%
A slowdown in emerging markets is not affecting Prudential's insurance business, the group's CEO said on Monday, remaining bullish on the region and arguing it would be the key driver of world growth over the next 20 years.
The insurance giant reported a 22 percent rise in first-half operating profit to £1.42 billion ($2.19 billion) in the first half of 2013.
"We feel good about these numbers," Tidjane Thiam told CNBC, saying that the group had hit four out of six of its financial targets in the first half. "Overall [it was] a very good performance," he said, with much of it coming from its Asia business.
He believed the Chinese government had the leverage to increase growth in the economy.
"There's an excessive focus on growth rates," Thiam said of the Chinese economy. "We believe that in the next 20 years, the world GDP is going to grow by something like $47 trillion and out of that $21 trillion will take place in Asia...The central message is that Asia is going to dominate world growth for the next 20 years to come."
The group increased its 2013 interim dividend by 15.8 percent to 9.73 pence per share. Thiam said the dividend was set at a prudent level.
Shares of the group were up around 3.7 percent on Monday morning.
Turning to the U.K economy where the 165-year-old company is based, Thiam said he felt confident about the future and was "extremely supportive" of the the Bank of England's new governor Mark Carney.
"I know Mark Carney and I think he's the right man for the job and he will drive the U.K. economy forward," he said.
He was supportive of quantitative easing (QE), arguing that at the time of the crisis it was "the right answer" and that it has been very effective. But he questioned the central bank's exit strategy, including the shape and speed of the exit.
"Depending on how that is done, the impact on the economy can be quite benign or quite significant," he said.