Prudential posts record operating profit in 2016, shares rise

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)