British insurer Aviva is in talks to sell its US life insurance business at a \"substantial discount\" under a large-scale restructuring programme aimed at returning the group to profit, the company said on Thursday. \"We can now confirm that we are in discussions with external parties with respect to our US life and annuities business and these are being actively pursued,\" Aviva said in a statement, which also unveiled a drop in sales. \"While not agreed, any such sale would come at a substantial discount to... book value, but would generate significant economic capital surplus. We believe any such sale would be in the best interests of the group and we are hopeful of a satisfactory resolution reasonably soon.\" Aviva -- Britain\'s second-biggest insurer after Prudential -- said in July that it planned to withdraw from 16 non-core business areas and announced senior management changes following a major strategic review of the embattled group. The review had been launched to strengthen its capital base and share price after the shock resignation of chief executive Andrew Moss in May amid spreading shareholder revolts over pay for top managers viewed as underperforming. Aviva is still in the process of looking for a new chief executive. The group added that total worldwide sales dropped 5.0 percent to £28.95 billion ($46.2 billion, 36.3 billion euros) in the first nine months of the year compared with the equivalent period in 2011.