The Hartford Financial Services Group, currently embroiled in dealing with financial losses and ratings downgrades, reportedly is negotiating a possible sale of its life insurance and annuity operations to Sun Life Financial Inc., according to a story yesterday in The Hartford Courant.

After having discussions with MetLife last month, The Hartford is currently in talks with Sun Life Financial Inc., Bloomberg News reported Wednesday, citing three unnamed sources.

While Bloomberg noted that the discussions with Sun Life may not result in a deal, it said the talks highlight the pressure upon The Hartford, hinting at the possibility that the 199-year-old company may be broken up.

On March 3, Standard & Poor's lowered The Hartford's rating to A from A+ for both the property/casualty and life operations, as well as its credit rating from BBB+ to BBB, which is still in the "adequate" range.

The Hartford maintains that it's still well-capitalized, and despite the numerous ratings downgrades, its credit rating is still in the "adequate" range. The financial health ratings of subsidiaries are still in the A or "strong" range, despite also being dropped last week from A+.

Sun Life also is dealing with ratings downgrades of its own, having its debt rating reduced from AA- from A+ last Friday by S&P, Bloomberg reported. The ratings company also listed Sun Life as having a "negative outlook."

This downgrade of Sun Life comes a week after A.M. Best lowered its credit rating to A from AA-.

At press time, INN was awaiting verification of the news from The Hartford.

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