UK markets closed

US hedge fund wants to end Prudential's 172-year UK history

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Prudential is UK's largest insurance company. (Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg)

US hedge fund Third Point, which has a $2bn (£1.6bn) stake in British insurance giant Prudential (PRU.L), wants to split the company into two and shut the UK head office.

Prudential said in a statement on Tuesday that it had received the letter from Third Point, and will “proactively” engage with shareholders in regards to group’s strategy and structure. It confirmed that it will provide an update on the Prudential’s performance and strategy at its full-year results on 11 March.

Third Point said in a letter to Prudential directors late on Monday that there was no strategic logic to the company's current structure and that the company should split into two units — US and Asia. Currently those units are run from London office.

Third Point, which has $14bn in assets under management, said in the letter that by closing Prudential’s UK-based head office, it would save £200m a year.

The US hedge fund is run by shareholder activist Daniel Loeb. Third Point has a history of urging companies to split apart, which includes Dow Chemical (DOW) and United Technologies (UTX).

Prudential is Britain’s largest insurance company by market capitalisation with £36.8bn ($46.93bn). Third Point is the group’s second-largest shareholder with a stake worth 5%.

Shares are up by nearly 4% in early trading:

Chart: Yahoo Finance