The UK's second-largest insurer Prudential has reported double-digit growth across all businesses in its full year results and insisted that the company has an independent future, downplaying rumors of a merger.

Total group insurance sales for the year were up 15% from 2004 to GBP2.15 billion. Sales in Asia increased by 23% to GBP732 million, while UK and Europe sales increased 10% to GBP900 million. The group’s US business, JNL, saw a rise in sales of 13% from the previous year.

CEO Mark Tucker said, All our businesses continued to grow strongly, with double-digit year-on-year percentage sales gains across the board. During a conference call, the CEO did not comment on speculation that Prudential may be taken over by Aviva, its larger UK rival, but did say, We believe there is a tremendous upside in our business and that we have an independent future.

Many observers are expecting the insurance industry to consolidate this year to cut costs and streamline business. Analysts view Prudential as a takeover target because of its strong presence in the US and Asia. French insurer AXA has also been tipped to make an offer after it revealed last year that it was looking to make a large acquisition.