UK insurer Prudential has promoted David Chua to chief investment officer for Singapore and consequently is looking for a new head of investment strategy for its business in the city-state.

Chua took up the role on August 17 after his predecessor, Lena Teoh, went on sabbatical, a spokeswoman for the insurer told AsianInvestor. She declined to comment on when Teoh was expected to return.

David Chua

Chua had joined in 2017 as head of investment strategy for Prudential Singapore, which had S$43 billion ($31.4 billion) in assets under management as of end-2019. Before that, he had worked in the investment division of Ergo, an insurance group owned by Germany’s Munich Re.

Prudential posted a vacancy seeking a replacement for Chua last month, according to LinkedIn. The role reports to the CIO and incorporates duties such as establishing and implementing the asset-liability management framework, and evaluating and proposing investment strategy and portfolio solutions. 

The spokeswoman declined to specify the deadline for applications.

Singapore accounts for a substantial chunk of Prudential Corporation Asia's assets under management, but the spokeswoman said that it did not publicise that figure.

In the firm's latest annual report, however, there is an indication of the size of these assets. The "internal funds" of its Asia operations – described as "those primarily held by the group’s insurance businesses" –  stood at $141.9 billion as of end-2019 up from $112.5 billion the year before.

In response to the news of Teoh's departure, the former CIO of a Hong Kong-based insurance firm expressed surprise, saying: "[Insurance] CIO turnover in Asia is relatively rare. [That's] interesting to see." 

Lena Teoh

INVESTMENT SETUP CHANGES

Teoh had joined Prudential in January 2017 as part of an overhaul of its investment setup in Asia in which it appointed new CIOs for all its major operations in the region, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan. The new hires have more autonomy to make allocations and select asset managers for their local portfolios than did the previous investment heads in each market.

Since then, Prudential Corporation Asia (PCA) has undergone further personnel and structural changes, not least at its Asian asset management arm, Eastspring Investments, which has had a turbulent couple of years.

In October it saw the de-merger of M&G – now combining Prudential's UK life insurance business and fund manager M&G Investments – from Prudential PLC in October 2019, which remains the parent of PCA (including Eastspring) and the US insurance business.

Subsequently, during this year, Prudential has transferred some $13 billion of its Asian equity assets from Eastspring to be managed by M&G Investments. And multiple sources expect more assets to be repatriated as M&G builds its Asian investment capabilities.