Prudential replaces Asia chief in management shake up

Prudential has shaken up its senior management, replacing the head of its Asian business after just two years in the job.

Asia is at the heart of Prudential’s plans for growth, with the rise of the middle class boosting demand for insurance products.

The Asian business has been run by Tony Wilkey since 2015 but on Thursday Prudential said he would be “leaving to pursue new challenges” and be replaced by group finance director, Nic Nicandrou. Mr Wilkey has been with the company since 2006.

The new finance director will be Mark FitzPatrick, a partner at accounting firm, Deloitte.

Mike Wells, Prudential’s chief executive, described Mr Nicandrou as “a talented strategist and rigorous operational manager,” adding that the company had “clear priorities to … accelerate our business” in Asia.

Prudential said on Wednesday that profits from its Asian business jumped by 45 per cent in the first quarter of the year, although some of that increase was down to exchange rate movements.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Asian business,” said Barrie Cornes, analyst at Panmure Gordon. “They have a huge opportunity in Asia.”

Gordon Aitken, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, welcomed the change of management. “Nic Nicandrou has been the best finance director in the sector over the years. He doesn’t just know the numbers, he knows the business through and through.”

Prudential’s Asian operation has changed in recent years. Five years ago, Indonesia was the biggest part of the business but Hong Kong has since come to the fore, boosted by Chinese mainlanders buying products in the territory. Last year, Hong Kong accounted for more than half of Asian new business.

The company also on Thursday held its annual meeting and released a detailed report into its financial position under the EU’s Solvency II capital rules.

At the shareholder meeting, about 10 per cent of votes cast went against the company’s pay report and the pay policy. Mr Wells was paid £6.9m last year, which was 30 per cent below his package in 2015.

Pirc, the corporate governance consultants, had recommended that investors vote against the pay policy, arguing that: “concerns remain over the overall remuneration structure and most importantly about the excessiveness of potential remuneration arrangements”.

The financial position report came ahead of a deadline this Saturday for insurers to release more information about their solvency under EU regulations.

It included a breakdown of Prudential’s capital position, and the help it gets from transitional measures that run out in 2032. In the banking industry, analysts and investors commonly look at capital without the benefit of transitional measures. So far this has not been the case in insurance as the data has not been available.

Prudential’s solvency ratio (capital available as a proportion of the minimum required) drops from 171 per cent to 161 per cent when transitionals are stripped out….

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