British life insurer Phoenix
The Board is continuing to consider whether CVC's approach may form the basis of an offer that is appropriate to recommend to Phoenix's shareholders, although there can be no certainty that any approach will lead to an offer being made, Phoenix said in a statement on Sunday.
CVC, which owns home, motor and travel insurer Acromas, and last year joined forces with rival Apollo to buy non-life insurer Brit, was not immediately available for comment.
Phoenix also confirmed it had held talks with British insurance takeover specialist Resolution
Resolution said earlier on Sunday it had held fruitless talks with Phoenix about buying the company.
The Sunday Times had reported that Resolution was close to clinching a 1.2 billion pound ($1.9 billion) all-share takeover of Phoenix, representing a 40 percent premium to its closing price on Friday.
The newspaper also reported that reinsurer Swiss Re, whose Admin Re unit specialises in buying insurers such as Phoenix that are closed to new customers, is also interested in bidding, as is CVC.
Swiss Re declined to comment.
Resolution, founded in 2008 by entrepreneur Clive Cowdery to buy weak life insurers and merge them into a profitable whole, had said in February that it would focus more on integrating its existing acquisitions than on looking for new ones as it prepares to sell its enlarged life business by 2014.
The company has so far bought life insurer Friends Provident, most of Axa's
Taking over Phoenix would have brought back under Cowdery's control a group of closed life funds that he sold for almost 5 billion pounds in 2007 to Pearl, an earlier incarnation of Phoenix backed by financier Hugh Osmond.
Phoenix, created from a complex restructuring of Pearl last year, remains burdened by over 2 billion pounds in debt incurred to finance that deal.
The company, which ultimately aims to buy more closed life funds, has said further acquisitions are on hold at least until it has renegotiated the timing of some payments on its bank loans.
Phoenix's shares have fallen by a fifth since the start of the year, underperforming an 18 percent drop in the European insurance share index <.SXIP>.
(Reporting by Myles Neligan; Additional reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)