Gartmore says sale is still on

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The Independent Online

Financial Editor

Gartmore, the UK fund manager, has moved to quash speculation that talks on selling it have collapsed. A terse statement issued by Phoenix Securities, which is handling the sale, said Banque Indosuez of France continues to seek to sell its 75 per cent shareholding in the fund manager and is "in contact with a number of potentially interested parties".

But the statement also conceded that the sale was proving more difficult than initially expected, and that "discussions with a number of parties had not at this stage resulted in an offer being made". Last September, when Indosuez first announced its intention to sell, Paul Myners, executive chairman of Gartmore, said the deal would be over by Christmas.

Instead, several initial British aspirants, such as BAT and NatWest Group, pulled out at an early stage. The last remaining UK hopeful, Prudential, has also grown cool, insiders say. The running is now mainly being made by Continental banks and insurers, but the pace has slowed to a crawl.

The statement was mainly prompted by the dismissal on Monday of Indosuez's president, Jean-Francois Lepetit, and suggestions that his successor would reverse the decision to sell the Gartmore stake.