Reports emanating from Paris suggest that Axa Re is on the verge of being sold to the US venture capitalist group Stone Point Capital, although no firm deal has yet been agreed.

French newspapers Les Echos and La Tribune have both reported that Stone Point is considering a move for the Axa subsidiary, with La Tribune valuing the unit at some E1.2 billion, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile the Financial Times reports that the sale is likely to go through shortly as Axa CEO Henri de Castries has already stated his desire to focus on the core protection part of the business. Axa Re suffered heavily in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York, the report adds.

Mr de Castries has also recently spoken out against the wave of protectionism that has seemingly engulfed much of Europe recently, meaning that the French finance group is likely to have few inhibitions about selling the reinsurance arm to an American company.