IndiaÆs Tata Asset Management group says it is in talks with the UKÆs New Star Asset Management for a possible funds joint venture in India. TataÆs spokesman Bradyumn Singh in Mumbai confirmed the two groups are negotiating the extent of the partnership and the cash lay-out.

The deal is another move by Tata to overhaul its global image. The Tata group has been active in acquiring and associating with UK brands such as Jaguar and Corus to internationalise its Indian franchise. At a company level, New Star would be an ideal partner to help introduce better risk management and research techniques in the Indian fund house.

But most importantly, bringing in a cash-rich Indian partner will help New Star replenish equity in its balance sheet. Compared to a year ago, New StarÆs London-listed stock has dropped 82% in value from ú484.88 in April 2007 to just ú83.88 in late March.

TataÆs presence will not only stimulate investor confidence and stop a flight of capital, but also expand New StarÆs Asian franchise.

Until Tata entered the picture, New Star was not particularly active in pursuing an Asian expansion. While it has a strong retail brand name in the UK, its presence in Asia is currently limited to Hong Kong and Singapore, where it pursues a pure institutional distribution model through private banks, insurers and third-party platforms.

New StarÆs Asian products include an Asian Opportunities Fund, New Star Japan Fund, New Star Japan Recovery Fund, a Japan Hedge Fund and a fund of funds named New Star Asia Portfolio Fund û all of which are managed out of London by a team that includes Ian Beattie, Lucy Bernays, Amanda Gold and Andrew Gibbs. The firm also has substantial property interests in the region.

New Star declined to comment on the status of the tie-up with Tata.

As at December 31, 2007, New Star's assets under management totalled $46 billion. Of this amount, 38% is contributed by institutional clients, with another 52% held in open-ended investments or retail funds. Hedge fund products represent about 6% of New StarÆs business.

Tata Asset Management was set up in March 1994. It is 67.9% owned by Tata Sons, with another 32.1% held by Tata Investment Corporation. As of March 31, 2007, it managed $566 million in India.