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Europe, News

Prudential gets H1 Asia boost; demerger expected by year-end

* Group operating profit 2.02 bln stg

* M&G Prudential merger to be completed in Q4

* Says “carefully monitoring” Hong Kong protests (Adds detail from statement, bullet points, CEO quote, share reaction)

By Simon Jessop

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – British insurer Prudential on Wednesday posted a 14% rise in half year operating profit, driven by robust growth in its Asian business, sending its shares higher.

Group operating profit from continuing operations, excluding its M&G Prudential unit, which Prudential said would be demerged in the fourth quarter, was 2.02 billion pounds ($2.44 billion), thanks to a similar growth in profit from its core Asia market.

“The group’s performance has again been driven by our Asian business, where we have delivered double-digit growth across our key metrics of operating profit,” Chief Executive Mike Wells said in a statement.

“We are benefiting from growing demand for health, protection and savings across the region.”

New business profit in Asia rose 10% over the six months to end-June, while assets under management at its Asia-focused fund unit Eastspring grew 12% to 169.5 billion pounds.

Prudential Plc said it was “carefully monitoring” the situation in Hong Kong, which has been rocked by around 10 weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters in the worst crisis since the territory reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

At 0906 GMT, shares in Prudential stood 0.8% firmer, among the top gainers on the FTSE 100.

($1 = 0.8290 pounds) (Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Kirstin Ridley)

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