Aviva eyes sale of Friends Provident unit for $500-$700 mln-source

HONG KONG, March 28 (Reuters) - Aviva Plc is

exploring a sale of its Friends Provident International unit,

which offers life assurance and investment products, in a deal

that could raise between $500 million and $700 million, a source

with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The British insurer has received preliminary interest from

about half a dozen Chinese firms and European funds for the

business, said the source, declining to be named as the process

was not public.

An Aviva spokeswoman declined to comment.

The news was earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Clara

Ferreira-Marques and Mark Potter)