Prudential sees new Asia profits doubling by 2013


HONG KONG (Reuters) - Britain's largest insurer, Prudential, aims to double the value of its 2009 new business profits in Asia by 2013, taking advantage of the region's low penetration rates, the company said on Wednesday.

It also has targeted a doubling of its 2009 life insurance and asset management pre-tax profit by 2013, Prudential said in a statement posted on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

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"Our strategy is sound, and we continue to pursue it with the operating discipline that has delivered excellent results on all measures over a sustained period," Prudential Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said in the statement.

Prudential reported new business profit of 713 million pounds ($1.1 billion) in 2009, and 713 million pounds in life insurance and asset management pre-tax operating profit in the same year, it said.

New business profit is a term used in the insurance industry to show how much premiums grew in a specified period, and is used because costs tend to be higher at the start of a policy's lifespan, which could distort actual earnings.

Asia has fueled much of Prudential's business in the past few years, where it attempted a $35.5 billion purchase of AIA and where insurance spending remains low compared with developed markets such as Britain.

The company reported a stronger-than-expected 17 percent rise in third-quarter sales in November, helped by strong growth in its flagship Asian markets.

(Reporting by Kelvin Soh; Editing by Ken Wills)

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