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Hartford In Talks To Sell Life Insurance Unit

Hartford Financial Services Group is in talks to sell most of its life insurance unit to Canada's Sun Life Financial, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Other options are under consideration, agreement may not be reached and "nothing is imminent," says a person familiar with the situation.

The Hartford
The Hartford

Hartford's shares have been down more than 90% over the past 12 months, making the company one of the hardest hit of the life insurers.

Hartford posted a $2.6 billion third-quarter loss, hurt by some of the steepest investment-portfolio losses of the major life insurers, and that was followed by an $806 million fourth-quarter loss.

On Wednesday, shares of Hartford arose about 11% in 4 pm composite trading.

Sun Life Financial , which earned $785 million in 2008, has signaled an interest in doing deals. Donald A. Stewart, SunLife's chief financial officer, last month said in its fourth-quarter earnings press release: "Our strong capital base provides added protection from market volatility, as well as enhances our ability to make acquisitions and expand our business."

Sun Life left its share dividend unchanged in the last quarter, at 36 cents per share. The company reported a fourth-quarter after-tax gain of $825 million from the sale of its interest in CI Financial.