Fund management group Artemis is believed to have failed in its attempts to raise funds to buy out Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis, which has put its 58 per cent stake in the UK firm up for sale.
Investment bank UBS is believed to have spoken to a number of interested bidders but City sources believe that the chances of a full management-led buyout have now receded.
Last week Fortis reiterated its plan to sell its position in Artemis. Chief financial officer Gilbert Mittler encouraged bidders by saying that Artemis, "which by the way is very profitable", had been earmarked for disposal.
Original estimates suggested that any sale could value the group as high as £1bn, although a dearth of available investment finance is likely to mean the company is now worth much less.
As of March 2008 the Mark Tyndall-led group managed £14.7bn worth of assets – a fall from last September when the firm enjoyed assets of nearly £16.3bn. A spokesman for Artemis declined to comment.