(Reuters) - British life insurance and pensions group Standard Life <SL.L> has announced it is in "exclusive and advanced" talks to buy rival Phoenix Group Holdings' <PHNX.L> Ignis Asset Management.
The Sunday Times newspaper had reported that Standard Life was considering a 400 million pound ($660 million) offer for Ignis, which manages fixed income, equity and real estate assets of around 67 billion pounds. (http://link.reuters.com/xuz77v)
"Discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that any transaction will be agreed. Standard Life Plc will make further announcements if and when appropriate," Standard Life said in a statement on Sunday.
Phoenix, which makes money by buying life insurers that are closed to new customers and running them more efficiently, said it would post an update on the deal when it reports its annual results on March 26.
Neither company disclosed any financial details about the deal.
The British government in Wednesday's budget relaxed rules forcing pensioners to buy an annuity at retirement, potentially making deals in the asset management industry more attractive to suitors.
Up to 15 billion pounds a year, by some estimates, could find its way to the mutual fund industry.
A deal would significantly boost the size of Standard Life's fund management arm, which has around 184 billion pounds under management.
($1 = 0.6063 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bangalore and Chris Vellacott in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey)