Prudential first-half operating profit up 17% at $2.8B

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Prudential, the U.K. insurance group, reported a better-than-forecast 17 percent increase in its operating profit to £1.8 billion ($2.8 billion), saying it had seen all of business units showing a strong performance.

The insurer's share price regained early losses in London trading Tuesday following the news.

Once a market darling and the European insurer of choice for investors, Prudential has suffered some setbacks this year, and its shares have underperformed relative to the sector.

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This is partly because of its exposure to Asia and the U.S., and concerns about slowdowns in both markets. The departure of Tidjane Thiam, its well-known chief executive, for the same role at Swiss bank Credit Suisse has also weighed down shares.

Mike Wells, who has taken over from Thiam at the helm of Prudential, said in a statement: "I am pleased to be able to announce such a strong performance today, the first time I have reported our results after taking over as Group chief executive at the beginning of June. Since then I have visited all of our major business operations, which has confirmed to me not only that our strategy is the right one, but that we have all of the capabilities required to execute it successfully."

Prudential still a 'market darling'?

In the U.S., where Prudential operates under the Jackson brand, new Department of Labor proposals on the broader application of fiduciary standards are expected to hit the entire industry.

"Jackson, alongside the rest of the industry, is actively participating in discussions with regulators and industry specialists," Prudential said in a statement Tuesday.

"Having been the European life assurer of choice while the euro zone economy was weak, it is understandable that the shares should see some corresponding underperformance vs Eurozone peers as sentiment in Europe turns," analysts at Deutsche Bank wrote in a research note.