Prudential’s Asian sales fall 24% due to COVID-19 pandemic

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Prudential plc has revealed that its first quarter sales in Asia decreased by 24% to US$986 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual premium equivalent sales fell 50% in Hong Kong and 19% in China, Reuters reported. However, Prudential indicated that the sales environment in China was showing signs of recovery.

Following the spin-off of its British business, Prudential’s main operations are centred on Asia and the US. In Asia, most of its sales come through the agency channel, which is hampered by restrictions on face-to-face contact to avoid spreading the virus.

“Over the first quarter of 2020 the world has seen substantial disruption caused by COVID-19, alongside related market volatility. During this time our focus has been on supporting our colleagues, distributors, customers and communities, while continuing to invest for the future and deliver on our strategic objectives,” said Prudential Group CEO Mike Wells in a statement.

“Around 75% of our approximately 19,500 colleagues are working remotely as of May 06, with no notable increase in costs, and across the group we are ensuring that our people have the support they need to ensure their physical and mental wellbeing. In some markets, such as China, we are seeing some easing of social distancing rules, while in others, lockdowns are expected to continue for some time. In all locations, any return to work will include appropriate alterations to the office environment and will be carefully phased to safeguard the health of colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Wells said that Prudential is continuing its preparations for a minority IPO of Jackson, its US-based business, but the company is still evaluating other options, including a fully independent Jackson. Prudential will provide a progress update at its half-year 2020 results in August.

Third Point, a rebel investor and the group’s second-largest shareholder, is advocating for Jackson to be fully separated from Prudential.

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