British insurer Aviva said late Friday that it is in advanced talks to buy rival Friends Life for £5.5 billion ($8.6 billion, 6.9 billion euros) to create the nation's biggest insurance, savings and asset management firm.
The pair said in a statement that they have reached agreement on key terms of a "possible" deal, under which Friends Life shareholders would receive 0.74 Aviva ordinary shares for each Friends Life ordinary share.
The possible offer is worth 398.9 pence per Friends Life share, a premium of 15 percent from Friday's closing level.
"The boards of Aviva and Friends Life ... confirm that they have reached agreement on the key financial terms of a possible all share combination of Aviva and Friends Life," the two FTSE 100 companies said in a statement issued after the market close.
Friends Life added that it was prepared to recommend the terms of the offer, under which their shareholders will own about 26 percent of the enlarged company.
"A combination of Aviva and Friends Life would create the UK's leading insurance, savings and asset management business by number of customers," the statement added.
The enlarged group would also have "a stronger balance sheet and significantly higher cash flows", enhanced by "substantial" cost savings, which would help "accelerate dividend growth".
The deal remains subject to reaching agreement on other terms and conditions, the completion of due diligence, and regulatory approvals.
Friends Life Group provides pensions, investments and insurance and retirement income products. It has more than five million customers with 4,000 staff worldwide.
Insurance giant Aviva meanwhile has 31 million customers across 15 countries worldwide.
"The combination would create the leading insurance and savings business in the UK with 16 million customers, who stand to benefit from being part of a stronger and more diversified group with a wider product range," the statement added.
Aviva added that the transaction was expected to spark a "substantial" increase in profits and assets under management.