March 14, 2017 / 8:56 AM / in 4 months

Prudential posts record operating profit in 2016, shares rise

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LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - British insurer Prudential reported record 2016 operating profit of 4.3 billion pounds ($5.16 billion) on Tuesday, led by growth in its Asian business and sending its shares higher.

Analysts were expecting operating profit of 4.1 billion pounds, a company-compiled poll showed.

Prudential, which has large operations in Britain, the United States and Asia, has been focusing on expanding its Asian business.

The firm saw a 15 percent rise in Asian operating profit, to 1.6 billion pounds.

The insurer, which is listed in London and Asia, said it would pay a second interim dividend of 30.57 pence per share and total dividend of 43.5 pence, up 12 percent from a year earlier and compared with a forecast 41.62 pence.

Prudential's shares were trading at 1,694.5 pence at 0847 GMT, up 1.8 percent at around a two-year high and at the top of the FTSE 100 index. (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Simon Jessop)

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