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Asia growth drives 4% rise in Prudential 2020 operating profit

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Asia growth drives 4% rise in Prudential 2020 operating profit 1

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) – Prudential’s operating profit rose 4% in 2020, Britain’s largest insurer said on Wednesday, driven by strength in its main Asian business, as it prepares to split off its U.S. operations.

Overall adjusted operating profit from continuing operations came in at $5.5 billion, while Asia adjusted operating profit jumped 13% to $3.7 billion, the company said in a statement.

The life insurer said in January it would split off Jackson, its business in the United States, through a demerger and may raise $2.5-3 billion in new equity, following pressure from activist investor Third Point.

It said on Wednesday that it was making “good progress” on the separation.

Jackson’s operating profit fell 9% to $2.8 billion.

“The proposed demerger will complete Prudential’s structural shift from a diversified global group to a growth business focusing exclusively on the unmet health, financial protection and savings needs of people in Asia and Africa,” Chief Executive Mike Wells said.

Prudential said it would pay a second interim dividend of 10.73 cents per share, and a total dividend of 16.10 cents per share.

Prudential shares were up 0.9% at 14.98 pounds by 0853 GMT. Earlier in the session they hit a near two-year high of 15.10 pounds.

(Additional reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, editing by Huw Jones and Jane Merriman)

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