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Prudential expands into Asia with new StanChart deal

Prudential has struck a deal with financial services group Standard Chartered to sell its insurance products in more Asian markets.

The new 15-year agreement, which starts in July, means a wide range of Prudential's life insurance products will be exclusively distributed through Standard Chartered branches in nine markets. Prudential's shares were up 3.5 percent at £14.39, an all-time high, following the announcement.

Prudential and Standard Chartered have also agreed to explore additional opportunities to collaborate in Asia and in Africa.,

Prudential chief executive Tidjane Thiam said the existing partnership had already delivered substantial benefits to both companies and shareholders over the last 15 years.

"Agreements like this don't happen overnight. I have spent a big proportion of my time with Peter Sands (CEO of Standard Chartered). We have a very good existing relationship. The game in Asia is distribution," said Thiam.

"The opportunity is as obvious as the sun in the sky, you can only capture if you have the distribution. It is a game and battle for distribution," he said.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The news follows the group's strong full-year results for 2013, with the insurer announcing it was raising its dividend by 15 percent after operating profits were up 17 percent at £2.9 billion ($4.8 billion)

Pru's U.S. operating profit was up 30 percent at £1.3 billion and its asset management arm, M&G Investments delivered record operating profit of £395 million, up 23 percent.

Thiam said the results marked a landmark profit of over £1 billion profit in each geography for the first time.

The group's Asia business also delivered strong results, with operating profits up 16 percent.

"At the heart of our future prospects is Asia. We are pursuing the increasing demand for protection products from the rapidly growing middle class in our chosen markets across the region," said Thiam.

"Heatlhcare spending has trebled in 10 years, we are riding away. The [healthcare] industry is 400 times bigger than 15 years ago," he told CNBC.

Thiam also said he was not interested in chasing down market share as it leads to "catastrophe".

"There is one business where you don't want to run a company ever looking at market share is insurance. Every insurance catastrophe in history has been triggered by search by market share," he said.

"It is value not volume. We set a product's characteristic at a place that we make money, at whatever volume we sell and I have been pressed by the market many times to give volume or sales targets, you will notice we only have profit target," he added.


By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow heronTwitter @jenny_cosgrave

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