Even before going public, the U.S. insurance and investment giant Prudential has changed its name to deemphasize insurance.
On Tuesday what used to be Prudential Insurance Company of America became Prudential Financial. That is the name the Newark, N.J., company will use for nearly all of its businesses in the Western Hemisphere, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Elsewhere it will be known as Prumerica Financial so as not to be confused with Prudential PLC, the London insurance company currently involved in a bidding war with American International Group Inc. over Houston-based American General Corp.
Like the decision to go public, the new name reflects the evolution of the company, which manages more than $371 billion of assets, and of its product line, said spokesman Bob DeFillippo on Wednesday.
People are living longer, and they are as concerned with asset growth as they are with asset protection. Our product line and now our name reflects that shift.
The old-time provider of life and life and property-casualty insurance now also offers investment products such as annuities and mutual funds as well as pension and retirement services and administration, asset management, securities brokerage, real estate brokerage franchising, and relocation services.
We have been known for a very long time as a big life insurance company, he said. Were so much more than that now.
The names of the U.S. subsidiaries Prudential Bank, Prudential Securities, and Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Co. will be retained, as will the Rock of Gibraltar logo. The life insurance operation will still be called Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Insurance has been disappearing from giant insurers names for years, and financial appearing there. In November, Allstate Corp. renamed Allstate Life Group of Cos., its life insurance and financial services subsidiary, Allstate Financial. In January of last year, when John Hancock Mutual Insurance Co. demutualized, it renamed itself John Hancock Financial Services. And it 1999, Equitable took the name of its parent, Axa Financial.
Such name changes are understandable, said Michael D. White, chairman and chief executive of the bank insurance consulting firm Michael White Associates in Radnor, Pa. These companies dont want to be solely identified with insurance.
In addition, Mr. White said, Prudentials demutualization plan has to do with access to the capital markets and wanting to be recognized as a financial organization above and beyond insurance.
The filing of the plan was completed April 9 and the company says it expects to make its initial public offering by yearend.
Since it is already going through a slew of changes to prepare for the demutualization, it makes sense to make the name change now, Mr. White said. Besides, theyre still keeping the rock.