Insurance giant Prudential reported 29 percent growth in new business profit in the first quarter of 2014 on Thursday, driven by continuing strength in Asia and the U.S.
New business profit hit £529 million ($897.3 million) up from £410 million the same time last year, with Asia posting a 20 percent rise and the U.S. growing 67 percent. The U.K. showed stellar growth for Prudential with a 90 percent rise in new business profit.
Prudential shares were up 2.4 percent on Thursday morning.
"The rise of Asia in our numbers Is inexorable," Prudential CEO Tidjane Thiam told CNBC in a TV interview.
"The good news of these results is that we are up 20 percent with Indonesia flat. And we have often said that we are not just a play on Indonesia and this proves it. Even without Indonesia the other businesses are big enough to carry us forward."
New business profits in Asia hit £243 million in the first quarter of 2014, the U.S. earned Prudential £195 million while the U.K. market saw earnings of £91 million. The U.K. growth was driven by three bulk annuity transactions
In Asia, Hong Kong saw new business profit growth of 73 percent, and in Singapore this was up 19 percent while Indonesia remained flat due to prolonged flooding in Jakarta and disruption caused by the eruption of Mount Kelud in East Java.
UK, US growth
Prudential's growth was strongest in the U.K. where the company saw new business profit up 90 percent in the first quarter of 2014. This was driven by three bulk annuity deals.
But the insurance company was still unclear about how a change in annuity rules in the U.K. would affect it. In March 2014, the British government announced an overhaul of the country's pension system allowing individuals aged 55 and over to access their entire pension fund as cash, removing the need to buy an annuity.
In a trading statement released on Thursday Prudential said it was "uncertain" about the effect of the change and is anticipating a "disruption to sales, which could be significant". However, Thiam told CNBC he is supportive of the proposals.
"People can now choose where to put their money. We think it's a better position to be in, we think some people will still choose to buy an annuity because from the research we make people are still concerned about running out of money and want to ensure against that longevity risk but others will buy ISAs," he said.
In the U.S. Prudential said its 67 percent rise in new business profit was driven by new product initiatives implemented in 2013 and higher interests which allowed the company to write new business with higher profit margins.
Prudential's M&G asset management business increased its third party funds under management by 8 percent to £129 billion as net inflows hit £1.4 billion.