AXA (AXA) , the French insurance titan, is in exclusive talks to purchase the Winterthur insurance unit of Switzerland's Credit Suisse Group (CSR) , according to a media report.

As of last week, AXA gained exclusive negotiating rights to purchase Winterthur, according to the report, which was published on

The Wall Street Journal's

Web site Sunday. The report cited a person familiar with the situation.

Winterthur is valued at more than $8.12 billion. Credit Suisse bought the insurance business in 1997 but in the past two years has indicated its desire to either sell it or spin it off in an IPO in order to focus on banking and asset management.

AXA's American depositary shares ended Friday down 14 cents at $32.06, while Credit Suisse shares fell 94 cents, or 1.7%, to $54.16.