Henderson has confirmed that it is in discussions to buy New Star Asset Management following speculation over the weekend that it had become the leading bidder.

In a Stock Exchange announcement this morning, it said: Henderson Group confirms that it is in discussions with New Star regarding a possible transaction, including a possible offer for New Star by the Group. There can be no certainty that any transaction or offer will be forthcoming.’

Henderson said that irrespective of whether the transaction goes ahead, its board will recommend paying out a total dividend for 2008 of 6.1p per share.

New Star said that any offer by Henderson for the company’s shares would be conditional upon the completion of the capital restructuring that it has agreed with its bank syndicate.

It said: ‘If any transaction were forthcoming, substantially all the proceeds would be applied to the repayment of the company's current liabilities and therefore it is not certain that any transaction will lead to a significant return, if any, to current shareholders.

'There can be no assurance that any offer for the company's ordinary shares, if forthcoming, would be at or above the level of the company's current share price. ‘

As a first step in its restructuring, the group last week posted a circular to its shareholders which announced its intention to de-list from the London Stock Exchange.

The group is currently controlled by its lenders – HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS and National Australia Bank – following a debt-for-equity swap in December to address £240m debts.

New Star said in November that its assets under management had fallen from £19.8bn in June, to £14.3bn.