Insurer Prudential reported stronger sales growth ahead of its annual investor meeting, in an effort to appease shareholder anger over its failed bid for AIG's AIA Asian unit.
Prudential said on Monday its sales rose 28 percent in April and May, beating the 26 percent growth reported in the first three months of the year, and demonstrating that its business remained on track despite the distraction of the AIA bid.
Throughout the period of our proposed transaction with AIA, our businesses continued to perform strongly, particularly in Asia and the U.S., Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said in a statement.
Thiam has faced calls to quit over the botched bid, which racked up 450 million pounds ($658.8 million) in adviser fees and other costs, and is expected to face renewed criticism from investors at the insurer's AGM later on Monday in London.
One major Pru shareholder, British asset manager Schroders , has called publicly for Thiam to step down, although other Pru owners told Reuters on Friday that it would be premature to force him out.
Thiam, who launched the takeover attempt in March after less than six months in the top job, is expected to say sorry to shareholders for incurring the bid costs while not clinching the deal, repeating an apology he first issued on Friday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
I am very sorry that we had to spend the money and didn't get the deal, he said in the interview.
Pru Chairman Harvey McGrath, who has also faced calls to quit, on Friday told the Financial Times that the vast majority of shareholders supported the company's top management.
Some shareholders are set to vote against the Pru's remuneration report in protest over generous pay deals handed to some executives, while others are likely to call for a review of the company's strategy in the wake of the failed bid.
Thiam on Monday repeated earlier denials that the AIA takeover attempt implied a lack of faith in Prudential's current strategy of pursuing capital-efficient growth with a focus on Asia.
We have been consistent in our commitment to our strategy and the proposed acquisition was intended to accelerate this strategy, he said.
Pru's proposed acquisition of AIA, which would have ranked as the insurance sector's largest ever takeover, was designed to transform the company into Asia's biggest foreign insurer, giving it a commanding position in one of the world's fastest growing financial services markets.
But the Pru was forced to ditch the bid last week after its shareholders baulked at the price tag, and AIG rejected a reduced offer.
At the weekend, the company denied a press report that it planned to resurrect the deal before the end of the year, calling speculation of a revived takeover bid misguided and inaccurate.
Pru said it had total sales of 1.355 billion pounds in the first five months of the year, up 27 percent compared with the same period last year, with sales at the flagship Asian division climbing 33 percent to 579 million pounds.
(Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)