Prudential sets sight on China, refuting continent-wide buyout rumours

November 21, 2019 | 14:40
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Rumours of Ping An Insurance Group taking over Prudential's Asia business, including Vietnam, have been made unlikely by Prudential's new expansion plans.
prudential sets sight on china refuting continent wide buyout rumours
Prudential announced big plans for China at its anniversary in Vietnam. Photo: AFP/Mike Clarke

Recent strategic expansion plans announced by Prudential cast a shadow of doubt on rumours thatPing An Insurance Group is about to buy Prudential's whole Asian operations.

At last week's media meeting in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of Prudential in Vietnam, Nic Nicandrou, chief executive of Prudential Corporation Asia (PCA), shared that Prudential plans to break into China in 2020.

This makes it doubtful whether there is a deal in the making between Prudential and Ping An. While a deal of this magnitude would reshape Asia’s booming insurance industry, including Vietnam, Nicandrou refused to comment on it but confirmed that Prudential has been operating as an independent company for 170 years.

With a $160 billion market capitalisation, Ping An trails only the US-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in the industry.

Prudential's plans for expansion in China could very well infer that the company has no mind to leave the continent as it is planning to expand in Ping An's home market – a move that would be fully unnecessary if the two decided to tie up. Nicandrou's words also hinted at the company's pride in being independent, all of which precludes a continent-wide turmoil, meaning the Vietnamese insurance industry will proceed on the trends affecting it until now.

Also at the meeting, Clive Darren Baker, CEO of Prudential Vietnam Assurance, revealed that in 2019, the company has served 1.5 million customers in 350 sales offices, with 200,000 consultants. Additionally, the company's charter capital reached VND4.13 trillion ($179.57 million) and it was in co-operation with seven banks.

Prudential also marked its 20th anniversary with the new commitment “We do for a healthier and wealthier Vietnam”. Riding the rising mobile health technology trend, Prudential Vietnam plans to combine its capabilities in life insurance, broad market footprint, and wide range of offerings with best-in-class partnerships with AI technology.

Accordingly, the company will soon introduce its health app, Pulse by Prudential, which will provide all Vietnamese customers 24/7 free access to a comprehensive set of AI-powered tools and personalised services.

With Pulse, users can manage their health and wellness more holistically and hence, help lower their medical expenses. Launched in Malaysia in August, Pulse will be introduced across 11 of Prudential’s markets in Asia, including Vietnam in early 2020.

By Tan Duong

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