Prudential Plc, Britain's largest insurer, plans to increase investment in China to boost its product coverage and sales distribution in the country and the company is interested in increasing the stake holding in its local joint ventures, according to a senior executive of the insurer.
Nic Nicandrou, chief executive of Prudential Corp Asia, said that the insurer is looking to increase headcount and establish more offices in China as it expands its presence in central and western parts of the country.
"Our strategy for the life insurance business is to cover as much of China as possible," the head of Prudential's Asia-Pacific business told China Daily in an interview in Beijing.
"We would like to invest organically, to hire more people, invest in more technology, and build new offices and branches as we spread out in China," he said.
The statement came as the insurer announced its plan to split its business into two companies, with one focused on the United Kingdom and Europe and the other on the faster-growing US, Asian and African operations.
Nicandrou said the demerger of the UK and European business will allow the insurer to accelerate its growth in faster-growing markets such as China and will put it in a better position to attract new investors that have a growth-focused orientation.
The insurer is also interested in boosting its stake holding in its joint ventures in China to 51 percent or more, once the Chinese regulators loosen the restrictions on foreign ownership, Nicandrou said.
Prudential currently operates two joint ventures with Chinese State-owned CITIC Group, one in the life insurance business and the other in the asset management business. The British insurer holds 49 percent of shares in both of the joint ventures.
Nicandrou predicted that the company will continue with a double-digit growth of life insurance premiums of new business in China after growing it by 43 percent last year.
At present, the country is the largest contributor to the insurer's new sales each year and the fourth largest contributor to its profit, according to Nicandrou.
The executive said that the insurance market in China is still underpenetrated compared with developed countries, which offers immense space for Prudential to grow its presence.