Pru could quit UK over Solvency II

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Prudential is weighing up moving its headquarters away from London because of new European Union capital rules.

The UK’s largest insurer is understood to have first drawn up plans to move its global base from the UK to Asia three years ago.

The Sunday Times reports a move, probably to Hong Kong or Singapore, is now being considered again. It is believed Prudential would either sell its UK businesses or list them as a separate company.

The newspaper says the trigger is Solvency II rules which, once implemented in January, will require all European insurers to hold far greater capital reserves.

The insurer is the latest financial institution to consider moving abroad because of the pressures of regulation.

In May, HSBC signalled it might migrate away from the UK because of plans to separate retail and investment banking.

Under the reforms recommended by Sir John Vickers following the financial crisis, retail banking must be conducted by standalone companies by 2019.

Prudential’s latest annual report warned Solvency II would deliver a £1.9bn hit to its Asian business.

In 2012, then chief executive Tidjane Thiam said the new capital requirements would force the firm to sell £11bn of investments in UK infrastructure.

Prudential declined to comment.