The talks, which have been confirmed by both parties, could result in a deal estimated to be worth around £400 million.
Ignis, which has £67.6 billion in assets under management, reported net inflows of £500 million in the third quarter last year, which chief executive Chris Samuel (pictured), attributed to strong sales of its Absolute Return Government Bond fund.
In a statement, Phoenix said: ‘Following an approach from Standard Life, Phoenix Group confirms that it has entered into exclusive discussions with Standard Life regarding a potential bid for Ignis Asset Management. Discussions are at an advanced stage but there is no certainty any transaction will be agreed. Phoenix will update the market at the time of its annual results on Wednesday 26 March.’
Standard Life, similarly, said: ‘Standard Life confirms that it is in exclusive and advanced discussions with the Phoenix Group regarding an 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.’
Consolidation has been continuing apace in the UK fund management sector. Bank of Montreal agreed to buy F&C Asset Management for £708 million in January, while Aberdeen finalised terms on its £550 million acquisition of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership last November.