HONG KONG, March 15 (Reuters) – Asia-focused insurer Prudential’s (PRU.L) operating profit rose 8% in 2022, boosted by new insurance sales despite the coronavirus pandemic, and its new boss said on Wednesday sales had picked up further since China lifted its COVID-19 curbs.
Adjusted operating profit from the London and Hong Kong dual-listed company came in at $3.38 billion on a constant exchange rate basis, up from $3.23 billion in 2021, Prudential said in a statement.
The result beat a forecast of around $3.34 billion from 22 analysts’ forecasts provided by the company.
“The removal of the bulk of COVID-19-related restrictions across the region and the progressive opening up of the Chinese Mainland economy has meant that 2023 has started well with encouraging progress in year-on-year sales,” Anil Wadhwani, the company’s new chief executive, said in the statement.
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Prudential’s annualised premium equivalent (APE) sales, a closely watched gauge of insurance sales, jumped 15% for the first two months of this year from the same period a year ago, said Wadhwani, who officially assumed the top job in February.
The insurer has now completed the move of its entire senior management team from London to Hong Kong – its new global headquarters – which is closer to its revenue sources.
“In Hong Kong we have seen a gradual increase in cross-border traffic from the Chinese Mainland as travel restrictions are eased,” Wadhwani said, adding demand for savings products in Hong Kong business was driving the sales increase.
As China ended its Zero-COVID policy, border restrictions were removed last month allowing mainland visitors to go to Hong Kong and buy insurance again, which analysts said would boost firms such as Prudential, as Hong Kong is a key revenue centre.
Reporting by Selena Li
Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Sonali Paul
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