- Insurance company Prudential has reported that total Asia sales fell 24% to $986m in the first quarter of 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19 on Hong Kong and China.

In a business update for the 2020 annual general meeting, it said that APE sales in Hong Kong and China, where restrictions were implemented earlier and travel from mainland China to Hong Kong was 'substantially curtailed', were 50% and 19% lower respectively, but that more recent sales data suggested that the sales environment 'is beginning to normalise in China'.

The company reported sales in Asia outside China and Hong Kong were up 1% in the quarter.

Adjusted operating profit in Asia was 14% higher during the first quarter period.

In the US, sales were $631m in the first quarter of 2020, up 25% over the same period in 2019 and up 19% from the fourth quarter of 2019.

Group chief executive Mike Wells said: 'To help our distributors operate safely with appropriate social distancing, we have been working closely with regulators to expand the number of products that can be sold virtually.

'In Hong Kong over 25% of our products can now be sold in this way, while in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines most products are now capable of being sold without the need for the customer and the agent to be in the same room.'

He added: 'In total, products equivalent to around two-thirds of our total APE sales (based on the sales mix achieved within the first quarter of 2020) can now be sold virtually.'

Prudential reported that it had delivered new services to customers through its 'Pulse by Prudential' digital health app, which has been downloaded on four million devices, more than trebling since early March.

At 10:10am: [LON:PRU] Prudential PLC share price was -40p at 1051p

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