A large United Kingdom insurer is courting a major player in the U.S. equity-indexed life insurance and annuities market.

AmerUs Group Company, Des Moines, Iowa, “is engaged in discussions with Aviva P.L.C. regarding a potential acquisition of the company by Aviva,” AmerUs says in a statement.

“There can be no assurance that these discussions will result in any transaction,” AmerUs says, adding that it does not intend to provide further comments on the discussions until they are concluded.

Aviva itself has issued a statement noting that it would pay for an acquisition by using its own cash, borrowing money and selling shares of Aviva stock.

“These discussions are consistent with Aviva’s stated strategy of pursuing value-creating acquisition opportunities in key growth segments of the major global long-term savings markets,” Aviva says.

AmerUs generated $191 million in net income in 2005 on $1.6 billion in revenue.

Aviva, London, generates the equivalent of about $46 billion in revenue per year.

Aviva made an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to acquire another large U.K. financial services company, Prudential P.L.C., London, the parent of Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Lansing, Mich.