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Group Chief Executive’s report

Strong, broad-based performance in the
first half of 2014


‘The Group has delivered double-digit growth across our three key metrics of IFRS operating profit, new business profit and cash.’

Tidjane Thiam
Group Chief Executive


The Group has delivered strong, broad-based performance in the first half of 2014. Our clear and consistent strategy and our focus on execution have allowed us to leverage effectively our chosen portfolio of businesses to produce good returns for our shareholders while delivering valuable products and services to our customers.


£1,521m
IFRS operating profit


17%
increase on half year 20131

£1,015m
EEV new business profit

24%
increase on half year 20131

£1,219m
underlying free surplus generation

13%
increase on half year 20131

£974m
net cash remittances from business units

15%
increase on half year 20131


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Currency volatility

The market reaction to the combination of the expected rise in interest rates in Western economies, concerns about economic growth in China and in other Asian economies and political uncertainty in Thailand and Indonesia have led to significant currency volatility during the first half of 2014 and to currency depreciation in some of our key Asian markets. There has also been more recently a significant strengthening of sterling driven by expectations that a stronger recovery of the UK economy would lead to an earlier shift in UK monetary policy. All these factors have impacted our results negatively when reported in sterling using actual exchange rates.

In that context, it is important to note that the actual flows that we collect from our customers in Asia and the US are received in local currency. We believe that in periods of currency volatility, the most appropriate way to assess the actual performance of our businesses is to look at what they have achieved on a local currency basis, in other words in terms of the actual flows they have collected rather than the translation of those flows into sterling. Therefore, in this section, every time we comment on the performance of our businesses, we focus on their performance measured in local currency (presented here by reference to percentage growth expressed at constant exchange rates) unless otherwise stated.

Group performance1

The Group has delivered double-digit growth across our three key metrics of IFRS operating profit, new business profit and cash with all four of our business units delivering a strong performance.

Our Group IFRS operating profit based on longer-term investment returns increased by 17 per cent during the period to £1,521 million (2013: £1,296 million).

  • Asia life operating profit was up 19 per cent underpinned by our performance in our seven ‘sweet spot’ markets2, which combined grew IFRS operating profit at a rate of 20 per cent. Our focus on proactively managing our diverse business portfolio has helped us offset the short-term headwinds experienced in a few of our markets.
  • US life IFRS operating profit increased 28 per cent to £686 million (2013: £538 million). We have achieved higher levels of fee income, generated by variable annuity products written at attractive margins combined with favourable market movements which increased the value of separate account assets.
  • UK life IFRS operating profit grew by 10 per cent to £374 million (2013: £341 million) benefiting from higher levels of bulk annuity transactions.
  • M&G delivered operating profit of £249 million3, an increase of 11 per cent, reflecting continued strong third-party net inflows combined with favourable market movements in the period, which together have increased M&G’s external funds under management by £14.7 billion to a record £132.8 billion (2013: increase of £6.3 billion to £118.1 billion).

Net cash remittances from our businesses to the Group increased by 15 per cent to £974 million (2013: £844 million on an actual exchange rate basis) driven by strong organic cash generation and supported by robust local capital positions. Cash remittances from Asia grew by 14 per cent to £216 million, the US was up 20 per cent to £352 million, the UK was up 9 per cent to £246 million while M&G (including Prudential Capital) delivered an increase of 19 per cent to £160 million.

Underlying free surplus generation from our life and asset management businesses, a key indicator of cash generation in these businesses, was 13 per cent higher at £1,219 million (6 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis) after reinvestment in new business.

Investment in new business of £382 million (2013: £362 million) has increased less rapidly than sales volume and new business profit, highlighting the capital-efficient nature of our growth.

New business profit4 was up 24 per cent, crossing the billion pound mark, to £1,015 million (2013: £817 million) driven by a combination of higher volumes and pricing and product actions to increase profitability. All three of our life businesses made strong contributions, with new business profits from Asia growing by 15 per cent to £494 million, the US delivering £376 million, up 31 per cent and the UK reporting £145 million, up 45 per cent.

APE sales increased by 17 per cent to £2.3 billion (2013: £2.0 billion) with double-digit growth from Asia, US and the UK. In Asia, APE sales grew by 13 per cent to £996 million with APE sales from our ‘sweet spot’ markets2 growing by 15 per cent. In the US, APE sales were 18 per cent higher at £871 million (2013: £737 million) led by variable annuity sales, with continued strong growth of Elite Access, our variable annuity business without living benefits, where sales were 27 per cent above prior period levels. In the UK, APE sales grew by 22 per cent to £433 million, reflecting strong bulk annuity and investment bond volumes which offset the decline in retail annuity sales. M&G has delivered net inflows of £4.2 billion (2013: £3.8 billion) as it continues to benefit from high levels of retail sales from Continental Europe, while Eastspring Investments, our Asia asset management business, delivered third-party net inflows which were 39 per cent higher at £2.5 billion (2013: £1.8 billion).

Our balance sheet continues to be defensively positioned and at the end of the period our IGD surplus5 was estimated at £4.1 billion, equating to coverage of 2.3 times.

We are making progress towards our 2017 objectives announced in December 2013.

2017 objectives

Download as excel file

  Reported actuals   Objectives*
Asia objectives 2012 £m7 2013 £m Half year 2014 £m   2017
Asia life and asset management IFRS operating profit          
Full year 924 1,075     >£1,858m
Half year 435 512 525    
Asia underlying free surplus generation6          
Full year 484 573     £0.9–£1.1bn
Half year 201 292 302    
           
      Actual   Objective
Group objective for cumulative period
1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017
    1 Jan 2014 to 30 Jun 2014   1 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2017
Cumulative group underlying free surplus
generation from 2014 onwards
    £1.2 billion   >£10 billion

* The objectives assume exchange rates at December 2013 and economic assumptions made by Prudential in calculating the EEV basis supplementary information for the half year ended 30 June 2013, and are based on regulatory and solvency regimes applicable across the Group at the time the objectives were set. The objectives assume that the existing EEV, IFRS and free surplus methodology at December 2013 will be applicable over the period.

Asia life and asset management pre-tax IFRS operating profit to grow at a compound annual rate of at least 15 per cent over the period 2012-2017.

Our operating performance by business unit – Asia

In the first half of 2014, Asia delivered IFRS operating profit of £525 million, up 19 per cent on the same period in 2013 (3 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis), reflecting continued growth in the scale of our in-force life and asset management businesses and highlighting the successful execution of our strategy. Free surplus generation, after funding investment in new business, increased by 19 per cent to £302 million (3 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis), underpinned by our ongoing focus on capital allocation and capital efficiency. Net cash remittances for the half year were £216 million, 14 per cent higher period-on-period.

Our strategic priority continues to be to meet the savings and financial protection needs of Asia’s rapidly growing middle classes with shareholder-friendly products that deliver demonstrable value to customers and are distributed through high-quality tied agents and carefully selected bank partners. The regulatory environment remains supportive as governments look to the private sector to provide efficient and consumer friendly ways for citizens to access enhanced social welfare options as well as to channel household savings into longer-term investments in the economy. Our product portfolio in the region is tailored to customers’ needs in each of our markets and consistently delivers a high proportion of regular premiums (90 per cent of APE sales) and a significant amount of premium directed towards health and protection coverage (29 per cent of APE sales).

During the first half of this year, some of our markets experienced headwinds as a result of political and economic events such as the uncertainty over the outcome of presidential elections in Indonesia and the military takeover in Thailand. These shorter-term cyclical pressures do not detract from the long-term structural trend of growing demand for our products and services from the rapidly growing and underinsured middle classes. These supportive trends underpin the compelling prospects for profitable growth for our business over the long term. These trends are reflected in our first half performance. Single premiums, which are sentiment-led and are impacted by cyclical events fell 2 per cent while regular premiums, which are the preferred mode for consumers to save and protect themselves, were resilient, growing 15 per cent in the period.

Distribution is key to success in Asia. Over the first half of 2014 we have continued to grow in both the agency and bancassurance channels. The growing scale and increasing productivity of our agency platform is complemented by an extensive range of bank distribution partners across the region. The first half of 2014 included the first anniversary of our successful partnership in Thailand with Thanachart Bank. We also announced in the first quarter that we have further extended and expanded our long-established and market-leading partnership with Standard Chartered Bank for 15 years to 2029. The renewal of this relationship is in line with our strategy, with Standard Chartered Bank strategically positioned in the fast-growing markets of South-east Asia – our ‘sweet spot’ markets2. This gives us access to Standard Chartered Bank’s existing 800 branches and 13 million customers and represents a significant growth opportunity over this period. June 2014 saw a record month for new business production from Standard Chartered Bank, continuing a strong history of delivery since 1998 that is based on the demonstrable success of working closely together under a strategic partnership framework.

Our strategic focus on the seven ‘sweet spot’ markets2 of South-east Asia (including Hong Kong), where the structural growth opportunities are the most attractive, continue to explain our performance in Asia. Collectively, these markets produced 20 per cent growth in IFRS operating profit, and £455 million of new business profit, over 90 per cent of Asia’s total generated, reflecting the disciplined execution of our strategy.

In Hong Kong, new business profit4 increased by 32 per cent, with APE sales growth of 30 per cent. This is mainly as a result of increases in active agency manpower and in productivity, demonstrating the ongoing success of our health and protection and our participating products in Hong Kong. In addition the domestication of the Hong Kong branch of the Prudential Assurance Company was effective 1 January 2014, and established an independent Hong Kong Life Fund.

In Singapore, we continue to lead the market with our popular regular premium and PRUshield products and increases in agency productivity have supported an 11 per cent increase in APE sales. New business profit4 was up 7 per cent, mainly reflecting the positive impact of higher sales volumes, partially offset by change in product mix in the period.

Indonesia had a challenging first half with exceptional flooding disrupting sales in the first quarter, followed by uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential elections depressing the overall market in the second quarter. Given these external factors we are pleased to have held APE sales at the prior period’s level and achieved a 1 per cent increase in new business profit4. Agency recruitment has remained strong throughout this period with the number of new agents added up 9 per cent over the prior year, and we remain very well placed for when the market normalises. Growth in IFRS operating profit of 32 per cent reflects the continued strong contribution from our in-force portfolio of recurring premium income.

In Malaysia, our decision to refocus our agency business on health and protection and to grow distribution by Bumiputra agents (‘Bumi’), has delivered an encouraging 14 per cent increase in agency activity. However, as average case sizes are smaller in the Bumi channel and as we have deliberately de-emphasised some top-up products, the combined increase in total APE sales is 6 per cent with new business profit4 also rising in line for the period.

Following last year’s acquisition of Thanachart Life in Thailand and the successful execution of our exclusive bancassurance agreement with Thanachart Bank, APE sales from this market have doubled over the first half of last year. This also results from strong progress in our original business, where APE sales were up 43 per cent in the first half of the year. Volume growth and the positive impact on margin from changes in product mix have seen new business profit4 increase 167 per cent. We have not seen any major impact on our operations from the recent political events to date and although we remain vigilant, we continue to be very positive about the longer-term prospects of our business in Thailand.

The transformation of our agency business in the Philippines is making excellent progress, following a significant increase in agent activity (up 36 per cent) and an increased focus on regular premium business (up 21 per cent). Lower levels of single premium and lower bancassurance sales (down 48 per cent) have driven the 12 per cent decline in total APE sales.

Vietnam had a solid first half, with APE sales growing 10 per cent and new business profit4 by 20 per cent driven by increases in agency activity.

Our joint venture with CITIC in China continues to perform well with APE sales growing by 33 per cent, reflecting progress in both the agency and bank channels. We now have offices in all the major economic centres in China. In India our joint venture with ICICI Bank remains the leader in the private sector, but the market slowed in the first half ahead of the recent elections. There is much optimism about the Indian economy and we remain in an excellent position to benefit from any positive developments. The recently-announced budget proposed an increase in the foreign shareholding cap from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, however the exact shape of the proposals and whether they are likely to receive parliamentary approval are still to be clarified.

In Taiwan and Korea, we remain selective in our participation and as a result we are content to tolerate fluctuations in new business volumes.

We are also setting foundations for future growth in new markets. We have successfully launched in Cambodia with a market-leading life insurance business, we have opened a representative office in Myanmar, and we are in the preliminary stages of entering Laos.

EEV life operating profit4 of £832 million is up 16 per cent on prior half year, largely as a result of the growth in new business profit and an 18 per cent increase in the contribution from a larger in-force book.

Eastspring Investments, our Asia asset management business, saw net third-party inflows of £2.5 billion, 39 per cent higher than last year, with success in securing new equity flows, particularly from institutional clients, mitigating lower net inflows in fixed income. Total funds under management as at 30 June 2014 were £67 billion, up 22 per cent on the prior half year as a result of net inflows and positive market movements. IFRS operating profit increased 24 per cent to £42 million, driven by the positive impact on revenue from higher levels of average assets under management.

Our operating performance by business unit – US

In the first half of 2014, Jackson delivered life IFRS operating profit of £686 million, up 28 per cent at constant exchange rates (18 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis) from the same period in 2013. This increase was primarily driven by increased fee income from higher separate account assets. Cash remitted to Group increased 20 per cent to a record level – £352 million compared to £294 million (at actual exchange rates) in 2013. Jackson continues to focus on the delivery of IFRS operating earnings and cash, while maintaining its disciplined approach to new business and management of the in-force book, and at the same time continuing to improve its capital position.

Overall, the US economy continues to see signs of improvement with further declines in unemployment rates, signs of recovery in the crucially important housing market and stronger GDP growth, with a second quarter at 4 per cent annualised.

During the first half of 2014, the S&P 500 Index rose 6 per cent and the 10-year Treasury rate remained significantly above the 2012 low levels. Overall, the US competitive landscape has been more stable than in recent periods, as most annuity writers appear to have committed to a particular course of action for the near term. That said, variable annuity providers continue to modify their product offerings through reductions in fund availability and increased fees. In addition, an increasing number of investment-only variable annuity products, ie variable annuities without living benefits, have been launched.

Jackson achieved total retail APE sales of £808 million, an increase of 15 per cent compared to the first half of 2013. These sales were achieved while continuing to write new business at aggregate internal rates of return well in excess of 20 per cent and with a payback period of two years. Including institutional sales, total APE sales increased 18 per cent to £871 million, driving new business profit4 growth of 31 per cent to £376 million.

APE sales from variable annuity increased 24 per cent to £763 million in the first half of 2014. Sales of Elite Access, our variable annuity without living benefits, contributed APE sales of £149 million, 27 per cent above prior half year levels and exceeding the growth rate in APE sales of variable annuities excluding Elite Access, which were up 23 per cent to £614 million. The economics of our variable annuity business continue to be very attractive and with the success of Elite Access, we continue to improve the diversification of our product mix, with 32 per cent of variable annuity APE sales in the first half of 2014 not featuring living benefit guarantees (2013: 29 per cent). In line with our proactive cycle management approach, Jackson continues to actively manage the sales volumes of variable annuities with living benefits to maintain an appropriate balance of our revenue streams and to match the Group’s annual risk appetite. At the end of the period, Jackson’s statutory separate account assets were £71.5 billion, up 34 per cent (19 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis) compared to £53.3 billion (at constant exchange rates) for the same period in 2013, as a result of both positive net flows and the significant growth in the underlying market value of the separate account assets over the past 12 months.

Fixed annuity APE sales of £27 million remained relatively flat compared to 2013, while fixed index annuity APE sales of £18 million decreased 68 per cent, primarily as a result of product changes implemented in late 2013 to increase returns to shareholder capital.

EEV life operating profit4 was £777 million, up 19 per cent from the same period in 2013, reflecting the growth in the scale of our in-force book and higher new business profit, which increased 31 per cent to £376 million. Although interest rates remain low, the beneficial impact of the product initiatives implemented in previous years enabled us to write 2014 business at overall new business margins close to post-financial crisis highs.

IFRS operating profit from non-life operations in the US decreased to a loss of £5 million (2013: profit of £31 million), due to a Curian year-to-date loss of £23 million after a £33 million provision related primarily to the potential refund of certain fees by Curian.

Jackson’s strategy remains unchanged. We continue to price new business on a conservative basis, targeting value over volume. Our hedging remains focused on optimising the economics of our exposures over time while maintaining a strong balance sheet. Since 1 January 2008, Jackson has remitted close to US$2.5 billion of cash to the Group. We believe Jackson’s approach has translated into value for the customers and into profits and cash for shareholders, the ultimate metrics of our successful strategy.

Our operating performance by business unit – UK, Europe and Africa

In the first half of 2014, Prudential UK delivered life IFRS operating profit of £374 million, up 10 per cent period-on-period and new business profit4 of £145 million, up 45 per cent, primarily as a result of higher levels of bulk annuity activity and increased sales of investment bonds. Cash remitted to the Group increased to £246 million, compared to £226 million in the first half of 2013.

The UK market continues to be heavily influenced by an unprecedented level of regulatory and legislative change. In March 2014, the UK government announced significant changes to pensions regulation which will effectively remove the requirement to purchase a pension annuity from April 2015. There has since been considerable disruption to industry sales of individual annuities as the government, pension providers, advisers and consumers work through the implications of these changes. In the transitional period created by the Budget, there has been, understandably, an increase in the number of customers who have deferred converting their pension savings into retirement income. This is reflected in our first half sales of individual annuities, which were also impacted by the overall slowdown in the market that started to emerge through 2013, with APE sales 43 per cent lower period-on-period at £63 million. Our experience in retirement income products and investment expertise means that we believe we are well positioned to help customers through this period of change and provide solutions that meet their retirement needs.

Total APE sales of £433 million increased 22 per cent. This includes four new bulk annuity deals in the first half of 2014 (2013: £nil), generating APE sales of £104 million and new business profit4 of £69 million. Through our long-standing presence in this segment of the life and pensions market, we have developed considerable longevity experience, operational scale and a solid investment track record, which together represent expertise and capabilities that are increasingly in demand. Our approach to bulk transactions in the UK will continue to be one of selective participation, looking for situations where we can both bring significant value to our customers and meet our demanding shareholder return hurdles.

Within our retail business, strong momentum in sales of onshore and offshore bonds was offset by a reduction in individual annuities and corporate pensions sales. Overall retail APE sales of £329 million were 7 per cent lower than the first half of 2013 and retail new business profit was 24 per cent lower, largely due to the reduced sales of individual annuities.

The strength of our investment proposition is reflected in the growth in sales of our onshore bonds. Onshore bonds APE sales of £102 million increased by 23 per cent, including APE from with-profits bonds of £93 million, up 25 per cent over the first half of 2013. In particular, demand for our non-guaranteed with-profits bond remains strong, attracting customers who are prepared to accept some investment risk but still want to benefit from the smoothing offered by a with-profits product with a strong track record of investment growth. We expect this to be a feature of the market going forward, with significant demand for products with managed volatility.

APE sales from other retail products, principally individual pensions, income drawdown, PruProtect, PruHealth and offshore bonds, increased by 25 per cent to £85 million. Offshore bond APE sales were 57 per cent higher and income drawdown sales grew by 95 per cent, both driven by our with-profits product offering. The growth in income drawdown reflects the improving investment environment and increased customer demand, which was accelerated by the UK Budget. The Budget has the potential to open up opportunities to serve our customers further and our programme of product development remains on track to bring new products to market in 2015.

Corporate pensions APE sales of £79 million were 15 per cent lower, mainly due to a fall in with-profits sales following changes to government sector pension schemes. We remain the largest provider of Additional Voluntary Contribution plans within the public sector, where we provide schemes for 72 of the 99 public sector authorities in the UK (first half of 2013: 68 of the 99).

EEV life operating profit4 of £388 million was 28 per cent higher than the first half of 2013, reflecting the positive impact of improvements in economic conditions and higher volumes of bulk annuity business.

Prudential’s continuing focus on the delivery of excellent customer service was recognised at the 2014 FTAdviser Online Service Awards, where we received an outstanding achievement award and two Five-Star ratings in the life and pensions and investment categories.

On 27 March 2014, we completed the acquisition of Express Life in Ghana, marking the Group’s entry into the nascent African life insurance industry. The business has now been rebranded to Prudential Ghana and is making good progress in growing its agency force and new business volumes. In addition, the renewal of our bancassurance partnership with Standard Chartered Bank includes an agreement to explore opportunities to collaborate in Africa, subject to existing exclusivity arrangements and regulatory restrictions.

We are positive about the long-term opportunities in Africa, where we see many of the favourable structural characteristics of our preferred Asian markets, although most sub-Saharan life insurance markets are in the very early stages of development and therefore are not likely to be material for many years.

M&G

Our European asset management business, M&G, has delivered a strong performance in the first half, with IFRS operating profit growing by 11 per cent to £227 million as a result of higher levels of funds under management. M&G remitted cash of £135 million to Group, up 24 per cent on 2013.

Net retail fund inflows totalled £3.8 billion during the first six months of 2014. Continental Europe made the largest contribution with net flows of £4.2 billion (2013: £5.6 billion). Retail funds under management from Continental Europe have increased by 32 per cent to £27.9 billion over the past 12 months and now represent 39 per cent of total retail funds under management, up from 34 per cent a year ago. Total retail funds under management now stand at £71.9 billion, up 15 per cent compared to 30 June 2013.

Following a relative slowdown in recent periods, M&G’s UK sales are showing signs of stabilisation, with net outflows of £516 million in the first six months, an improvement on net outflows of £1.2 billion in the same period in 2013.

M&G’s institutional business produced first-half net inflows of £427 million. The business again experienced a series of expected withdrawals from a single large but low-margin mandate which was originally received during 2012 and whose value at 30 June 2014 was £5.9 billion. Excluding the redemptions from this single mandate, the business has experienced a healthy positive run rate of underlying net sales. Overall, institutional funds under management have increased to £60.8 billion, up 10 per cent compared to 30 June 2013.

Consistently good investment performance, coupled with an established reputation for innovation, has led to a strong pipeline of new business for the institutional team. In particular, M&G has used its investment expertise to develop a number of products that allow institutional investors to take advantage of the gap in the lending market created by the decline in long-term commercial bank loans. These opportunities include lending to medium-sized companies, housing association-registered providers, commercial real estate borrowers and infrastructure projects.

Strong net inflows, combined with the positive impact of a 9 per cent increase in equity market levels and an 8 per cent rise in bond markets, pushed total external client assets to a new record level of £132.8 billion, 12 per cent higher than a year ago. Total funds under management now stand at £253.7 billion (2013: £234.3 billion), with third-party assets accounting for 52 per cent of the total.

Underlying profit8 increased by 10 per cent to £214 million and our operating margins improved, as M&G continues to execute against its strategy and deliver strong performance for both clients and shareholders.

The beneficial impact on revenues of higher levels of funds under management has helped to absorb a larger cost base, reflecting continued investment in headcount and operational infrastructure, and resulting in a cost/income ratio of 54 per cent that is unchanged from the first half of 2013.

Looking ahead, M&G will continue to seek diversification by both asset class and geography, while remaining focused on delivering excellent investment performance and service to its clients.

Capital and risk management

We continue to take a disciplined approach to capital management and have implemented a number of measures over the last few years to enable us to make our capital work more efficiently and more effectively for the Group. Using the regulatory measures of the Insurance Groups Directive (IGD), our Group capital surplus position at 30 June 2014 was estimated at £4.1 billion (2013: £3.9 billion), before allowing for the interim dividend, equating to coverage of 2.3 times.

In July 2013, Prudential plc was listed by the Financial Stability Board as one of nine companies to be designated as a Global Systemically Important Insurer (GSII). Since then, in July 2014 the International Association of Insurance Supervisors has released a consultation paper on the Basic Capital Requirement (BCR), one of the two types of capital requirement proposed under the GSII framework. Prudential is monitoring the development and potential impact of the framework of policy measures and engaging closely with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) on the implication of this designation.

Solvency II is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2016 and our preparations are well advanced. We continue to work with HM Treasury, the Association of British Insurers, the PRA, trade associations and peers across Europe, to ensure that the practical details of Solvency II, including the final implementing measures, are both workable and effective.

Dividend

‘The Board has approved a 2014 interim dividend of 11.19 pence per share, which equates to an increase of 15 per cent over the 2013 interim dividend.’

Tidjane Thiam
Group Chief Executive

Due to the strong and sustained operational and financial performance of the Group, evidenced by the achievement of all our demanding 2013 ‘Growth and Cash’ Objectives, the Board decided to rebase the 2013 full year dividend upwards to 33.57 pence per share, representing an increase of 15 per cent over 2012. As in previous years the interim dividend for 2014 has been calculated formulaically as one-third of the prior year’s full year dividend. The Board has approved a 2014 interim dividend of 11.19 pence per share, which equates to an increase of 15 per cent over the 2013 interim dividend.

The Board applies strict affordability tests against a broad range of criteria before making its dividend recommendation. It is the result of these tests, combined with the Group’s exceptionally strong performance in the past five years, that enabled the Board to take the unusual decision to recommend the rebase of the dividend in consecutive years, 2012 and 2013.

11.19p
interim dividend

15%
increase on half year 2013

It is worth emphasising here again that although the Board has been able to recommend three upward rebases in 2010, 2012 and 2013, the Group’s dividend policy remains unchanged. The Board will maintain its focus on delivering a growing dividend, which will continue to be determined after taking into account the Group’s financial flexibility and our assessment of opportunities to generate attractive returns by investing in specific areas of the business. The Board believes that in the medium term a dividend cover of around two times is appropriate.

Outlook

Our business has continued to deliver both ‘Growth and Cash’ in the first half of 2014. We are making progress towards the 2017 objectives announced in December 2013.

Our clear and unchanged strategy focused on cash-generative growth from our attractive and increasingly diverse geographic, product and market segments combined with our disciplined execution underpins our broad-based underlying financial performance.

There is increasing evidence that economic growth is set to accelerate in the US and the UK with emerging Asia economies forecast to continue to grow at relatively higher rates than developed Western economies. While this improving macroeconomic picture is beneficial to our businesses, there remains shorter-term uncertainty around the pace and timing of eventual interest rate increases in the US and the UK. This has mainly manifested in a strengthening of sterling. Investment markets are discounting an orderly transition to a less accommodative world. In Europe, the economic environment continues to pose significant challenges but we have little exposure to this region.

Asia remains core to the long-term growth and profitability prospects for the Group. A rapidly growing and prosperous middle class that is mostly underinsured, with very low state insurance coverage, provide a strong structural underpinning for long-term sustainable and profitable growth. In the shorter term, some Asian economies are facing cyclical headwinds from currency depreciation, political events and the effects of proactive financial tightening undertaken over the last year. Against this backdrop, we continue to actively manage our diverse portfolio of businesses across the region to secure strong returns to both our customers and our shareholders. We are also investing in further expanding our leading business platform in the region as evidenced by the renewal of our long-established and successful bancassurance relationship with Standard Chartered Bank and our successful partnerships with UOB and Thanachart Bank. Our leadership position across our ‘sweet spot’ markets2, growing scale and effective distribution of our attractive product propositions across both the agency and bank channels position us well to profitably capture the long-term structural growth opportunity.

In the US, we remain focused on generating both earnings and cash. In the UK, we are leveraging our brands and existing product expertise to meet our customers’ changing needs in the new regulatory landscape while delivering stable returns.

We remain confident in our ability to produce profitable growth over the long term and continue to create value for our customers and shareholders.

Notes

  1. The comparative results referenced above and elsewhere in this document have been prepared using constant exchange rates basis except where otherwise stated. Comparative results on an actual exchange rate basis are also shown in financial tables in the Chief Financial Officer’s report on our 2014 first half financial performance.
  2. ‘Sweet spot’ markets include Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
  3. Including Prudential Capital.
  4. The 2014 EEV results of the Group are presented on a post-tax basis and, accordingly, the half year and full year 2013 results are shown on a comparable basis.
  5. Before allowing for interim dividend.
  6. Underlying free surplus generated comprises underlying free surplus generated from long-term business (net of investment in new business) and that generated from asset management operations. The 2012 comparative is based on the retrospective application of new and amended accounting standards and excludes the 2012 one-off gain of £51 million from the sale of the Group’s holding in China Life Insurance Company of Taiwan.
  7. Asia 2012 IFRS operating profit of £924 million, is based on the retrospective application of new and amended accounting standards as at 31 December 2013, and excludes the 2012 one-off gain of £51 million from the sale of the Group’s holding in China Life Insurance Company of Taiwan.
  8. Excluding performance fees, carried interest and share of profits from associate entity, PPM South Africa.
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