Provident Financial will complete the sale of its motor insurance business within months, the insurer has insisted.

"The group is progressing the sale of the motor insurance business," a spokeswoman for the company said.

"Discussions with potential acquirers are proceeding satisfactorily and the board expects to complete the sale of the business in the second quarter of 2007," she said.

It is thought the book has a price tag of £230m, which could have scared away some of the potential buyers.

Analysts' valuations range from £150m to £225m.

Australian insurer IAG, which recently bought Equity Group, and AXA have been touted as potential bidders. Both companies are keen to expand their motor businesses.

AXA has attempted to distance itself from such suggestions, however.

But one former senior insurance executive who has looked at Provident's motor book said it was not an attractive acquisition as it was "too easy to replicate".

Provident specialises in older driver and young women drivers.

The source said it would be preferable for an insurer to grow organically in that sector rather than buy the business.

Provident's motor book made a £41m pre-tax profit in 2006.

Analysts believe it would not be attractive to the large direct writers as it comprises largely non-standard intermediated risks.

Provident announced in January that it had spoken to a number of third parties in relation to Provident Insurance, and had commenced discussions regarding a possible sale.