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    Asia boosts Prudential profit, demerger making progress

    Britain's biggest insurer, Prudential, reported an above-forecast 6 percent rise in 2018 operating profit to 4.8 billion pounds ($6.31 billion) on Wednesday after a strong performance from its Asian business.

    The life insurer, which has large operations in Asia and the United States as well as Britain, was forecast to show operating profit of 4.6 billion pounds, according to a company-compiled forecast of analyst expectations.

    Prudential said it was making "continued progress" in separating its British business, M&G Prudential, through a stock market listing, which market sources expect before the end of the year.

    "Given the extent of our opportunities and our proven ability to execute and innovate, we are well positioned to continue to grow profitably," Chief Executive Mike Wells said in a statement.

    The firm's Asian business saw a 14 percent rise in operating profit while M&G Prudential's profit rose 19 percent, with its British pensions business helped by a slowdown in life improvement expectations.

    But the U.S. business, Jackson, lagged, with profit down 11 percent due to accounting measures related to lower U.S. stock markets.

    M&G Prudential saw net asset management outflows of 9.9 billion pounds from external clients, including the expected redemption of a 6.5 billion pound institutional mandate.

    Prudential's shares were trading at 15.40 pounds at 0904 GMT, up 0.6 percent, slightly outperforming the FTSE 100 index.

    Prudential said it would pay a total dividend of 49.35 pence per share, up 5 percent but below a forecast 50.36 pence.


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