China's economic situation is being "misread" by the West, the chief executive of insurance giant Prudential told CNBC on Wednesday as the group reported a 22 percent rise in full-year operating profit, and hiked its dividend for 2015.
Operating profit for 2015 rose to £4.01 billion ($5.69 billion). The group said its ordinary dividend increased by 5 percent to 38.78 pence per share and also announced a special dividend of 10 pence per share.
"We had a dividend policy of raising our dividend by 5 percent...and we had pulled forward some earnings in anticipation of Solvency II in the U.K., and those earnings belong to the shareholders," CEO Mike Wells told CNBC in an interview. Solvency II refers to a new set of EU rules governing the European insurance sector, including requirements on how much capital insurers should hold.
He sought to reassure shareholders over business in Asia, and China in particular in 2016.
"I think China and Asia in general are misread by the West," CEO Mike Wells told CNBC. "The consumers have money, are spending...all of the key metrics around our average client are very resilient."
The group's life and asset management businesses in Asia recorded a 17 percent rise in operating profit last year. Eastspring, its Asian asset management business, achieved record third-party net inflows of £6.0 billion, bringing total funds under management to a new high of £89.1 billion.