Sun Life & Provincial's independent non-executive directors have told Axa it has to make a fresh bid if it is to acquire the outstanding shares in its British subsidiary.

Talks between Axa and Sun Life's minority shareholders have dragged on for five weeks since the French insurer said it wanted to buy the 43.7% shareholding it does not currently own. Sun Life is the parent company of PPP healthcare and Axa Insurance.

Sun Life's minority shareholders, including rival insurer Prudential with a 6% stake, are believed to be holding out for a higher price.

Their interests are being represented in the talks by Sun Life's independent non-executive shareholders.

But the impasse looked set to be broken this week, when Axa indicated that it was prepared to make a re-newed offer.

A statement issued by Sun Life said: "Axa has now indicated to the independent non-executive directors that a new proposal will be put to them by the end of the week."

However, insurance analysts have suggested that Axa will need to pay more than the £5 per share thought to be on the table.

This would value the company at £2.4,bn, although market analysts say Sun Life is worth nearer £5.5bn.