Prudential Financial Inc. has emerged as the lead bidder for Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.'s individual life insurance business, which may sell for about $1 billion, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The insurers are still weeks away from striking a deal, and the talks could fall apart, said one of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions are private. Hartford said in March it would seek buyers for the unit. Protective Life Corp. is among the other companies that showed interest in the division, the people said.

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