Prudential Plans to Buy AIG, The Prudential Assurance company caused disbelief when it recently announced place to purchase AIGs Asian division, thus heralding the biggest rights issue in UK history. Eyebrows were raised as the financial problems of AIG are well documented. Founded in 1848, Prudential is an insurance giant currently boasting over 20 million customers and operating in at least 12 Asian countries. They have made big inroads in to far eastern markets in recent years and are looking to strengthen their position. The news and accompanying announcement of a rights issue caused a 20% drop in their share price although this has now recovered somewhat, with far eastern investors thought to be propping up the share price. The company have now announced that it plans to list it’s shares on the Hong Kong Stock market as this will benefit it’s changing customer base. It is thought that investors from the far east are more keen on this deal than investors from the United Kingdom. It plans to complete this move, prior to the 21 billion pound rights issue in May.
In the United Kingdom, Prudential is a company with strong traditions and an excellent brand name. Associated for many years with the ‘man from the Pru’ image, in fact it started it’s life selling industrial branch insurance policies to mainly the working class population for premiums as low as one penny through teams of agents acting as door to door salesmen. Up until recently many agents still called at home to collect weekly insurance premiums. As well as life and pensions, Pru offer insurance and protection against a wide range of general insurance products such as Home insurance, Car insurance and Travel polices. Perhaps the biggest resistance to this new deal has come from institutional investors, unsure about the directions of the company and the sheer size of the rights issue. Some also feel they have not been consulted or involved enough in some aspects of the fund raising. The Pru are confident they have their numbers correct though and confidently predict the size of their business could have risen 10 fold in the next decade. Chairman Harvey McGrath commented that company is committed to both it’s UK and overseas businesses and that they do not need to sell the UK businesses or any other business in order to complete the transaction.