UK-based insurance company Prudential has posted higher third quarter sales and has cited growth in Asia – which now accounts for more than half of its gross sales – as the main reason behind the increase.
“Year-to-date sales in our Asian life operations are up an excellent 48 per cent compared with 2006 and have already exceeded the £908 million achieved for the full year 2006,” said the group’s chief executive, Mark Tucker. Although business declined in the UK, this was offset by increases in Hong Kong, Taiwan and India, as well as the US.
And Prudential is not the only group to benefit from growth in the Asian market, and China in particular. Many independent and corporate investors have seen shares rise sharply in recent months, with many rising more than 200 per cent over a five-year period.
Although many still consider investment in the region to be riskier than in other more established parts of the world, CIO of Fidelity Japan, John Ford, says that the market has changed dramatically in the last ten years.
“Ten years ago the world watched as the Asian crisis unfolded. Currencies were devalued and markets fell – the Tigers lost their roar. The transformation has been remarkable and today, the economies of Asia are now the driving forces of both global growth and global confidence.”
“The potential impact of a US slowdown needs to be closely monitored but Asia is becoming increasingly important as a driver for world growth,” he added.
Manager of the Fidelity South East Asia Fund, Allan Liu, agreed. “The Asia ex-Japan market has risen by more than 30 per cent in the first three-quarters of this year so I believe we need to be cautious in the short term. However, the underlying themes driving growth are unchanged and long term the region is still a good investment.”
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