Executives at Citigroup Inc.'s Primerica Financial Services have approached private-equity firms, including J.C. Flowers & Co., Blackstone Group LP and TPG Inc., to gauge their interest in buying its 100,000-person sales arm, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Executives started the discussions after Citigroup failed to find a buyer for the entire life insurance company during the past year, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are not public. Citigroup, the recipient of a $52 billion government bailout, has not endorsed the plan, the people said.

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