Phoenix Group Is in Talks to Buy Cinven's Guardian Financial

Phoenix Group Holdings, the U.K.’s biggest manager of life-insurance funds closed to new customers, is in talks to buy Guardian Financial Services Ltd. from private-equity firm Cinven Ltd.

Phoenix has been evaluating Guardian as part of an ongoing sale process of the company, Phoenix said in a statement Thursday. The talks aren’t exclusive and there can be “no certainty” that a deal will take place, according to the statement.

Chief Executive Officer Clive Bannister has been cutting costs and refinancing debt at Phoenix after buying Resolution Plc in 2007. Securing an investment grade ranking from Fitch Ratings Ltd. in August is helping the firm cut borrowing costs as it prepares to make more acquisitions.

Sky News yesterday reported the deal would fetch more than 1 billion pounds ($1.55 billion).

Phoenix shares rose as much as 4.8 percent in London trading on Thursday and were up 3 percent as of 8:15 a.m.

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