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Britain's Prudential to split in new world order for insurers

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By and Carolyn Cohn

(Reuters) - Prudential is to spin its British and European off from its international operations, breaking up the 170-year-old insurer in the latest shake-up in a fast-changing industry.

Insurers in Britain have been changing strategy to reduce exposure to capital-heavy products following the introduction of rigorous European solvency rules two years ago, while also seeking ways to deal with growing pressure on fees.

Prudential said on Wednesday it is splitting off its savings and investment-focused M&G Prudential, which will be headquartered in

That will leave focused on Asia, the and It will also remain headquartered and listed in and be led by

"We're not looking to get rid of all of our capital-intensive products, we're looking to grow the piece that's capital-light," Wells told Reuters, adding that the M&G Prudential "is better off standalone, competing domestically for people, for capital".

Once the proposed split is complete, Prudential said it expects both companies to be big enough to feature on Britain's benchmark stock index.

John Foley, who heads M&G Prudential, will steer that through the and investors will hold shares in both at the end of the process.

The industry is wrestling with the rising cost of regulation and pressure on fund management fees and Prudential's move follows Standard Life's merger with in 2017 which led to the sale of the bulk of its to last month.

Anglo-South African group is also in the midst of a four-way split.

As well as the demerger, Prudential disclosed the sale of a 12 billion-pound UK annuities book to and posted results for 2017, which showed a 6 percent rise in operating profit to 4.7 billion pounds, beating market expectations of 4.6 billion pounds.

Prudential, which said in August that it was embarking on a restructuring that would see it combine its M&G and UK and European businesses, said the timing of the has not yet been set and would depend on a range of factors, including completion of the deal.

Analysts at said it was too soon to conclude whether the planned "will be a straightforward positive or not", reiterating their neutral rating on the stock.

Prudential's shares were up 5.4 percent to 19.25 pounds at 0841 GMT, taking it to the top of the index.

(Reporting by Ben Martin, additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain, editing by and Alexander Smith)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 14 2018. 14:53 IST