UK - Prudential says there's more competition in the bulk annuities market - and that it won't budge on price.

"After a slow first half in 2006, activity within the wholesale bulk annuity market has picked up in the third quarter, however, Prudential's sales for the first nine months have remained lower than the corresponding period last year," the firm said.

It added: "Prudential has seen increased competition in the bulk annuity market during 2006 and although it remains committed to this market it will only participate where there is an acceptable return on risk adjusted capital."

There have been several new entrants to the market recently, including the Paternoster business set up by its former UK chief executive Mark Wood.

Speaking in September, Wood highlighted what he termed "gamesmanship" in the market as providers seek to win business.

There was "internecine" competition between providers, Wood said in a lecture at the Cass Business School.

Meanwhile, Prudential today said net institutional fund inflows increased 39% to £2.6bn. 

It said: "Strong fund inflows were seen across M&G's institutional business, especially in the area of segregated fixed income. 

"The continued growth in assets under management in the Collateralised Debt Obligation (CDO) programme and Episode global macro fund in the first nine months of the year clearly demonstrates M&G's success in developing skills in external markets originally built up for internal funds."