South African insurer Sanlam is in exclusive talks to buy the UK life assurance arm of General Electric for up to GBP500 million, according to a report in the Financial Times.

<p>Shares in the insurer dropped on the news as analysts see the UK insurance market as extremely competitive. Neither Sanlam nor GE has commented on the report, which the newspaper attributed to a person following the deal.<br /><br />US conglomerate GE, which manufactures electrical equipment, aero engines, other industrial equipment as well as offering commercial and retail financial services, sold its reinsurance business to Swiss Re last year.</p>