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Pru overtakes Standard as Q1 sales rise by 11%

Prudential has overtaken Standard Life to take second place in market share of the life and pension sector after a 11 per cent rise in first quarter new business.

Pru’s market share has risen to 8.9 per cent, overhauling the 8 per cent announced by Standard Life in March. Pru expects to be able to cement this position as Standard continues to focus on preparations for its flotation. Norwich Union still leads the way with a 12 per cent market share.

Thirty-four per cent of Pru’s business last year came through the IFA channel compared with 55 per cent for the market as a whole.

Pru’s business breakdown includes 13 per cent direct versus 10 per cent for the market and 28 per cent through employee benefits consultants compared with 9 per cent market average.

UK chief executive Mark Wood stresses that Pru is focusing on margins rather than market share, similar to the strategy outlined by Stan-dard group chief executive Sandy Crombie last month.

Pru’s first quarter life and pension sales were up by 11 per cent from £425.42m to £478m compared with the same period last year.

Unit-linked sales increased by 195 per cent year on year, offsetting weak with-profits business.

The trading update is Pru’s first since Mark Tucker took over as group chief executive from Jonathan Bloomer. Speculation has been rife that Wood, passed over for the group chief executive role, might quit, but he reaffirms his commitment to the Pru, saying he has spent four years helping reshape the business.

Wood says: “Market share is not really a target as we are more concerned with profit and return on capital. This our fifth straight quarter of growth. We have been working hard for four years getting Pru into fighting form and it would be a big wrench to give it up.”

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