Equitas has denied that top-level talks are taking place that could see Lloyd's reinsurance vehicle trading as a reinsurer in the US.

High-level sources said that Equitas is in discussions with the US and UK governments exploring the possibility of the company trading as a regulated reinsurer.

But an Equitas spokesman denied such discussions were taking place.

Experts say the move would allow Equitas to trade shares in the US market to cover its liabilities and enjoy the protection of US federal law. But it would hinge on proposals on US tort reforms and the asbestos claims funding plan.

The Senate is expected to decide this week whether to approve the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, a proposal put forward by a committee led by Republican Senator Arlen Specter. If the Act is passed then all US businesses and insurers with asbestos liabilities will be forced to contribute to a $140 bn (£75 bn) trust scheme. The insurance industry is expected to contribute about $46bn.

But the future of the Bill is not certain.