Standard Life is in exclusive talks over a £400 million deal to acquire fund manager Ignis Asset Management.

Discussions between Standard and Ignis parent Phoenix Group are at an advanced stage, although both parties have stressed that there is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed,

According to the Sunday Times Canadian bank RBC and Australian investment firm Macquarie are also interested in a deal for Ignis which manages around £67.7 billion and has been touted for a sale as life company consolidator Phoenix comes under pressure from investors to reduce its £2 billion of debt.

Any deal would follow Aberdeen's acquisition of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership for £550 million last year and comes as Bank of Montreal looks to complete its £700 million takeover of F&C.

The move would take Standard Life Investments ahead of Aviva Investors and M&G in terms of assets under management with more than £250 billion.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange Standard Life said:  ‘Standard Life… confirms that it is in exclusive and advanced discussions with Phoenix Group regarding a potential acquisition of Ignis Asset Management Discussions are on-going and there can be no certainty that any transaction will be agreed. Standard Life will make further announcements if and when appropriate.’